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Monday, May 24, 2010

Garden 2010! (Part 1)

There's hardly anything left from last year's garden except for strawberries. Unlike last year, these guys have grown TALL actively reaching for the sun. It's a very neat look, I think.

This year I decided to completely change my garden orientation. Instead of 4 long rows, I have 4 short rows. Sounds worse, right? Well, technically I do have fewer plants in the garden, but last year it was too tight.

Last year, we used these flimsy cheap tomato cages. Given that I couldn't find any more robust cages, and building some stronger cages would be prohibitively expensive (even cattle wire is too expensive), we decided to try something different...very different. For starters, each of the tomato plants is staked so that the center mass of the plant will be supported. In a couple of weeks, we'll put down some other stakes and wind twine around them to fashion a three-dimensional Florida weave (of sorts) around them so that their limbs are also well supported. Why not just do this latter thing? Well, it will be a few weeks (or more) before they're large enough (wide enough) to require this other support, and I think this will be better. We'll see :)

From closest to farthest in the photo above, we have serrano and jalapeno peppers, then a row of poblano peppers, then a variety of cherry tomatoes (yellow plum on the right, then from a mixed packet for the other three), then four bloody butcher heritage tomatoes, then four tomatillos.

The peppers won't have this special weave, but we will do a standard Florida weave; you can see the stakes on either end of the row in anticipation of this.

Along the fence on the left are bush beans that haven't quite sprouted up through the fabric yet. We planted two plastic stakes on either end and ran some twine in anticipation of them; they probably won't get as tall as the stakes are, but..oh well :)

Along the fence at the bottom of the picture (where you can't see) are carrots that haven't quite poked out yet). Along the fence on the right are weeds :P

As far as the garden's architecture is concerned, each row has soaker hose running its length (as well as some along the fence-line), then garden fabric was put down and cypress mulch on top of that. Hopefully this will keep the ground warm and moist and prevent requiring a lot of watering. The watering is all on a timer; right now it's daily for a half-hour at 6am and it seems to be working pretty well. The butchers have grown about 3 or 4 inches since I put them in the ground last week. The peppers are doing well too, but some bug has been eating their leaves; I got some insecticide soap spray today and some slugbait. Hopefully between the two, I won't have any more holey leaves. One of my serranos was still a wee seedling when I put it in the ground; whatever bug it was ate all of its leaves (I don't think it will survive).

I started almost all these plants (except the tomatillos) back in March in our basement closet with some 4 foot grow lights in shop-light fixtures. Naturally, we started more plants than we'd have room for in the garden "just in case"...but because we can't throw away anything, we decided to throw the remaining EIGHT tomato plants into irrigated buckets and threw them in the landscaping where they won't kill the lawn. These are predominantly mortgage lifters; for some reason, they weren't doing so great when it came time to plant so I didn't put any of them in the garden. We'll see how they turn out! You'll notice that there are only 6 orange buckets...there's also a black bucket that I doubled-up because I ran low on soil. We'll see how that works out (I imagine not so great!)

Last but not least, we wanted a place to put some herbs and other small plants. The house came with a small planter box (the smaller older-looking one in the picture below) and we decided to make two more and tier them. We opted to make them match the length of the deck rather than the length of the prior box. Each of the new boxes is approximately 8'x1'x1'. From top to bottom, we have two kinds of basil, then turnips and green onions, then radishes and cilantro.

We'll probably end up replacing the smaller box with another cedar box eventually (and maybe the deck too), but that's a project for another day/year.

I'll post updated pictures in about two weeks so you can see how they've grown!

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