Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow

Thanks to Mother Nature and her abundant supply of heat, humidity and rain this season, the garden is growing quite well in fact. As I've mentioned before, this year we got back into gardening with some (six) simple 35x96" raised beds that I built from pine 2x6" with 3/4x3" strapping top rails coated with Danish Tung Oil and then I added PVC conduit with zip-tied plastic fencing climbing trellises. For the soil we used a good mix of peat moss and screened compost from the local garden center. This has proven to have been a good choice as it is rich and fertile and drains well while holding the mosture pretty well.

Our crop selection consists of a fair amount of beets, cucumbers, peas and lettuce with the staple tomatoes and peppers, some squash and some onions. We also have potatoes planted and growing in bags off to the side. Not a huge crop by any stretch but one that is manageable and should produce some good results.

In fact, it has already started to produce. We have been eating lettuce and beet greens as well as some peas from the garden for a couple of weeks now. The lettuce is going nuts with the Romaine almost completely ready to harvest and the leaf lettuce steadily producing in abundance. We have been thinning the beet greens and adding them to out fresh salad mix but are getting to the point where the remainder will be left to mature as beets.

The peas are producing well but not in huge quantity at this point. Not sure if that is just a matter of the number of plants and area or not as I don't have much experience with them. We will just wait and see I guess. The cucumber have started to produce and hopefully it will not be much longer before we can start to harvest. The cats go through at least three full sized English cucumbers a week for their afternoon snack so if we can replace that with fresh from the garden it will be a big bonus for all of us. The tomato are also getting bigger and fuller rapidly and I'm guessing will start to initially ripen within a couple of weeks.

The peppers, squash, potato, beets and onion still need some time so it will be a while on them still. I have been replanting as I go, at least with the lettuce and beets, so we can continue to harvest throughout the season. Again, nothing Earth shattering going on but it is nice to see the fruits, or vegetables as the case may be, of our labor on a plate in front of us at dinner time.

I can also claim that no public water has been used on the garden at all. All irrigation has come directly from rain either in the form of the consistent falling rain or in the few drier times, from our very slick and economical rain barrel water collection unit that Tipsy graciously got me from the High School he works at in Nashua, and I set up under a downspout. Also no chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides have been used. Our greens are green.

So far we have also had no issues with the wildlife, but it seems to be the squash and pumpkin (which never took off anyhow) that the squirrels have a liking for. The deer are too busy eating the bumper crop of poison ivy and other crap that is in great abundance this year, so have left the lettuce alone.

It has been fun so far and is certainly productive. Practically speaking of course, I'd guess that it will take a couple of years to recoup the outlay for the beds, potato bags, soil, rain barrel and seed. The seed was minor but I used a couple yards of soil and a few bags of peat moss. The good thing is that we should get a few years easily from the beds with the addition of some manure in the fall and then cover them up for the winter to set.

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