Six on Saturday

Yet again, I am joining the Propagator, who generously hosts Six on Saturday.

1. Rearrangement of vegetable beds. Following 2 different arrangements and months of dissatisfaction with both, I hit upon a seemingly more promising solution for my vegetable beds. First, I broke down the awkward barriers between what amounted to different sections of the edible garden, then I reconfigured the raised bed sides into 2 lines, holding the vegetable bed soil back from the path and preventing erosion on the slight slope from the orchard to the herb garden. The simpler lines are visually more appealing in my opinion, and they expand the space in which edibles can be grown. Without the boundaries, I am considering a more free-form mix of vegetables, herbs, and fruits to combat the woes of monoculture and take advantage of opportunities for companion planting.

2. Leaves! This year I cleared a few off the sidewalk and street, but otherwise just let them lay where they fell. My leaf mould experiment last season was not fully successful, as the unmasticated leaf pile did not break down to the extent I had hoped. This year, I’ll allow the leaves to function as a natural mulch until spring, when their remnants will be cleared away and either added to the compost bin or spread in the “woodland” areas.

3. Growing winter vegetables from seed. This year, I decided to take advantage of our relatively mild winters to grow some frost tolerant crops while there’s moisture to be had. Leeks, mustard, onions, kale, carrots, and radicchio were sown into seed trees, which were in turn placed under a grow light in the dining room. Some are ready for transplant and will be places in a mini greenhouse to harden off. Clearly, I have almost no idea what I’m doing, but I’m sure I will learn something from the experience, though the lesson may come at a cost. I do find that my interest in vegetanle growing has increased significantly since it became so obvious that even I cannot deny it that there is no more room for perennials.

4. Growing natives from seed. Another experiment. Native seeds that require stratification are simply sown into potting mix and left outside over winter. I created a corral of concrete rubble to prevent the pots from blowing about, but otherwise they are communing with the unmediated elements. We shall see if the results are superior to those of rotating seed packets in and out of the refrigerator before germinating them in seed trays under a grow light.

5. Green manure. I have acquired 3 packs of cover crop seeds, which I intend to plant under the orchard and berries. They are fava beans, crimson clover, and buckwheat.

6. Leaf miners. My chard is plagued with them. Any organic remedies of use, or is this a case where acceptance is the best prescription?

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6 thoughts on “Six on Saturday

  1. I envy you the mild winter and all those lovely veg you can grow. It can be hard to integrate veg successfully in the garden but sounds like you’ve found a good compromise. I wonder what went wrong with the leaf mould experiment? Not enough beasties to break it down? Or perhaps not wet enough? We had a wet summer which had the upside of producing excellent leaf mould. Now I wouldn’t be without the stuff, so useful!

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  2. I wish I had a mild winter too. I live on the other side of the coast in southern NJ. My garden beds look like yours right now with dried Autumn leaves scattered all about. They add a bit of interest when they are few and far between. Too many and they must go!

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  3. My approach to leaf management is similar to yours. I have four big Norway maples close by so there are a lot of leaves. I rake the walks but let leaves stay on the perennial beds and even some on the lawn. I watch out for really thick accumulations on top of plants, though, and remove them. My winter compost pile is mainly leaves with some cut down perennial stalks. It takes more than a year for it to break down, and only because in spring/early summer I flip it into the spot recently vacated by the previous heap, which I use for spring mulching. It’s heavy work, but worth it, because the finished product is useful. During the flipping process, I see leaves that aren’t broken down; they’re fairly dry and somewhat packed down. That’s why flipping is needed. Sometimes I even add water.
    My chard has holes in it too, but is perfectly fine to eat.

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