Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 GARDEN IS COMPLETE

The 2012 garden is planted--see maps below.  Whew!  Everything is in its place and I'm on to less urgent maintenance projects, like weeding and catching up on the blog.  We've been working hard, and it's nice to have a break.

NEW THINGS 2012:

  • We've completed framing all of the beds!  The raised beds without frames worked well enough, but the framed ones are so much better at keeping the weeds out, and with the sloping edges of non-framed beds there was less planting space.  With the frames I can plant much closer to the beds.  Also, we think that the frames should keep the ducks out of the plants should we let them into the garden to snatch bugs.
  • I'm trying some Minnesota Midget melons.  I've tried some melons before without success, but these are smaller, with a shorter growing season, so I'm giving them a go.
  • We created a new "Three Sisters" patch of corn, beans and squash.  We've done the 3 sisters before, but this year we put a new 15'x25' bed off to the side, near the ducks.  To keep ducks and bunnies out, we framed it and added a couple feet of snowfence around the perimeter.  See photo below.  I've planted 3 varieties of corn to mature early, mid and late season.  All are organic, non-gmo, non-hybrid corn.
  • I've sprayed with beneficial nematodes to hopefully limit the bugs which grow in the soil.  I hope this helps, particularly with the cucumber beetles I had so much difficulty with last year.
  • I've done a much better job of mulching everything right from the start.  I'm using some chopped up moldy hay we've had sitting around, mixing it with some dry manure.  It seems to be working well, except that the manure is full of weed seeds.  I figure I'll just deal with weeding that first batch of weeds that pop up to get the benefit of the manure in the garden.
  • The tomatoes are spread out a little more this year.  Instead of doing double rows of tomatoes in the beds, they're all in single rows, mingled throughout the garden and planted with tomato companions: basil, carrots, onions, marigolds, thyme.  I'm using a variety of trellising methods, as I haven't decided on a favorite.  There are pros and cons to all the methods I've tried so far.
  • The greenhouse worked well and was used for getting plants ready for transplant in addition to winter edibles.  We had fresh greens for salads just about all winter.  Some seedlings were planted in the greenhouse beds until ready for transplant, others were just put into the GH during their "hardening off" time.  I also planted just a few (4) tomatoes in the greenhouse to get off to an early start.  The tomatoes on those plants are green and growing at this point.  We're looking forward to fresh tomatoes soon!  The last couple of months it got pretty hot in there some days, so to add additional ventilation and cooling we installed an old swamp cooler Tim had previously used for the house.  We put it on a thermostat and were able to keep the greenhouse from reaching the mid-90's down to 80 or lower.  It was very helpful!  We've now removed the polytarp cover on the greenhouse, and it is open air for the summer.  
  • I fixed up a small area with a few perennial flowers.  It's a hot spot against the wall on the south side of the house, and not good for most veggies.  Hopefully the flowers will survive.
Many other things I've done in the garden pretty much the same as before: lots of tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, beets, rutabagas, potatoes, beans, summer and winter squash, peas, carrots, greens, herbs, strawberries.  The asparagus has been good, and I've frozen what we haven't eaten, but now it's time to let it grow out.  I've also planted LOTS of marigolds all around the garden--they're supposed to keep a lot of the bad bugs away, and they're cute.

The ducks are doing well and have produced lots of eggs for us.  They went through a period of about a month when they weren't laying as consistently, but now they're back on track with 4 eggs almost daily.  Occasionally I sell a dozen or give a few away to friends who've never tried them.  They've been fun, and enjoy hanging around us when we're working in the garden--especially near the 3 Sisters, which is in their territory.  Pink is the mellowest duck and will let me pet her when I feed them.  Orange is the loudest, crankiest, and often seems to have her feathers ruffled.  Blue and green are both fairly mellow, too.  

Here are my final garden maps for the season:  If you wish to see these maps in more detail, click HERE and HERE.
Main Garden 2012

3 Sisters Patch