Saturday, July 2, 2011

Adaptive Gardening

Disappointed. I've been more than dismayed at how difficult it has been to get things going in the garden this year. Though we don't rely completely on our gardens to feed our family, we do reap the benefits of having healthy choices throughout the year and lowered grocery bills.

The Northwest had an exceptionally wet and cold spring almost into mid May which hindered my early plantings. Things I did plant in April literally rotted in the ground. Nothing new for me the last two years, but a hard act to follow when in years past I've been planting in March and reaping the goodness out of the ground in April.

Our goal this year was to really expand our vegetable beds and work with our climate more to maximize production. In April we ordered 3 yards of dirt and added an entirely new garden (approximately 18 feet by 20) behind the new garage. Yes, I realize not just a some pile of dirt, but an investment on our family's eating.

I knew I would be pushing this new garden's capacity as we hadn't "worked" the soil yet, but I had seeds in hand and it couldn't hurt right? Or could it? Though the soil appeared to be rich I've noticed in the months after that it clumped in my hands. This soil texture has caused few tender seeds to push through the hard soil or if they did survive they die days later. Where as my new garden should be bustling with tender greens and plants, it is surely lacking.

However, there are bright spots. My tomatoes (a Northwest variety) are doing quite well as well as my potatoes and squashes. I am excited about these "wins" but I know these items won't be ready until later in the season. My established garden of course is doing fantastic. I did have some minor set-backs with the green beans as they were some of the seeds that rotted in the ground. In addition, I finally had to replant the pumpkins in pots away from the garden as the chickens pushed the garden gate over four times and ate the pumpkin seeds. (Seriously girls!) My girls only have access to the gardens late October through February so naturally any chance they can sneak in they make their entrance.

But all in all, our original garden is going gang busters especially our strawberry patch. In
the past I've tried to contain or control the strawberries as I had limited garden space. This year I decided to let the strawberries take over an entire patch as I wasn't' worried about space. Over the past week we harvested over 2 baskets full of beautiful, fresh berries from the garden EACH DAY! A huge win in our family, but again we are missing our fresh greens.

Though I am disappointed, I will adapt. This weekend I plan on planting some new sections of greens (peas, lettuce, endive, spinach) into the established garden where the pumpkins should have gone. I will plant the pumpkins into the new garden after they sprout as vine type plants seem to be doing OK at this time in the new garden beds. This Fall I will start working the new garden by adding all of our compost in the months to come and turning the soil as often as I can with these added nutrients. In addition, I plan on bringing "the girls" (aka the urban chickens) to help. They have helped my other garden each year by scratching the soil, spreading nutrients (with their um hum waste), and mixing the compost with the soil.
Though it isn't my gardening dream this year, it is what it is. I learn things each year about gardening and I adapt and hope for the best next year. I still have time to salvage this year, I just have to work harder. Of course, my flowers in the front never seem to mind and always look amazing. I will simply have to stop and smell the roses from one of my 13 rose plants.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I decided to garden in our new home for the first time in years. We have many of Sug's friends living here...bunnies...must be friends, she never chases them! So they have enjoyed the lettuce; they harvest a little each day. They loved the spinach! It is gone completely! We are hoping the peppers, tomatoes, and cukes aren't on their menu! MOM