Saturday, May 2, 2009

Barking Mad in the Garden...

Of course I just realized that I forgot to get anything for signs for tomorrow... sigh... Oh well, I'm doin' the best I can. I should say Zak is doing the best I can, since he's provided 99% of the muscle and a great deal of the brains for this operation.

We started the day with a trip to our favorite place, the builder's supply. I bought seeds for the cutest carrots you ever saw. They are like little orange balls. Since I suddenly have room to grow carrots I got a packet of seed. I will interplant them with radishes, which will be ready to pull long before the carrots require more than a thread of room.

When we got back from the builder's supply Zak set to and built a 12" deep, four foot by four foot raised bed. This will be divided into 16 one foot square grids as per Mel Bartholomew's square-foot gardening method. Crops are sown more closely than in row planting, and as one crop matures it is replaced by transplants which have been grown from seed. It is claimed that using this method will allow you to grow all the vegetables for a single person in one four x four bed. We'll see. Soil will be delivered in a week or ten days, but in the meantime I layered in a six-inch "lasagna" of leaves, compost, organically enriched sawdust, and micronutrients which will speed their conversion into organically rich compost.

Next Zak tackled building an "Earthbox", a larger version of the sub-irrigated planter I made earlier from pop bottles. This one was made from a large (68 L/18 gal) tote. I'll have several of these in the end, for tomatoes, okra and melons. But the first one went swimmingly, and took very little time. It took him about 30 minutes to make it once he had the materials assembled. He'll make a second one tomorrow during the workshop, to show how they are made.

These planters are reputed to produce twice the yield per square foot, as the plants draw exactly the amount of water they need on a continual basis. You do not get diseases splashed up from the soil onto leaves and stems, as you do when you water with a hose. The top is covered so rain doesn't disturb the water balance or splash soil up on the leaves. Everywhere I have looked people rave about using these type of containers.

The garden is jumping with birds. The blackbirds are back, doing their extravagant displays, and the quail cock has apparently decided that he and his lady love own this patch of the world, at least as far as the quail tribe is concerned. Another male quail came along about half way through the afternoon and got the tar kicked, pecked, smacked and beaten out of him. There was quite a bit of crowing afterwards. My neighbour says that the quail nested in the bumper of Kent's RV several years back. I wish they'd do that again, now that Elvis and Priscilla have moved away it would probably be as safe a place as any for a family of baby quail.

I put out a bowl of dog kibble for the blackbirds, since I know how much they like it. Yes, I may be the only person crazy enough to buy dog food for the carniverous birds, but I did it for the magpies in Calgary too, on the premise that they'd take an easy meal over fighting off other birds to rob their nests.

I meant to transplant some tomatoes and other plants today. We went to a local greenhouse yesterday afternoon, and while I had meant to buy a couple of green pepper plants their's looked no better than mine. No secondary leaves at all. I did buy a couple of dozen plants, mostly flowers, but two very small globe basils. Mine are just as nice. I'd like some mints, but guess I'll have to go further afield.

Garden day tomorrow!!!

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