Posted by: David | May 15, 2007

In the Garden

As mentioned in the About segment, I like to garden. My wife and I have always maintained fairly good-sized gardens once we settled down after our first few years of nomadic wander-camping. So that’s about 25 years worth of gardening.

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Our present garden & backyard

 We’ve grown all kinds of silly things. Salsify, rutabagas (not silly), okra, blue potatos, etc. We’ve planted fruit trees, dug so-called “French Intensive” beds, used organic methods mostly, but occasionally snuck in the 10-10-10. We’ve had compost piles that steamed mightily in the early spring mornings, thanks to sheep and horse manure. We’ve turned our garden beds by hand and by Troy-Bilt. But always we’ve gone for the raised beds, except for our singular row-crop, sweet corn and the squash and pumpkins that invade the corn by August.

Here’s a couple of pictures of this spring’s beds, which I can now feel in my lower back.

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The rototiller did most of the work for sure. We borrowed it from a friend and in exchange I put the replacement bolo tines on it. Our friend had purchased the replacement tine set a year ago for about $140. The old tines were pretty seriously worn, and a couple were bent. I was going to till first and then replace the tines, but thought that it would be better to get the new tines mounted and verify their function by using them. They functioned great!

What sucked was the fact that after the 1.5-2-hour tine replacement, there was a problem with the freakin GAS TANK CAP! Removed the metal cap, filled the tank with gas, and then could not get the cap back on for ANYTHING! And I spent a good solid HOUR with channel lock pliers trying to get the cap to thread back on but NOOOO. Fuggetaboutit.

Finally had to steal a gas cap from another Troy-Bilt appliance of similar vintage, a “power cultivator”. That worked. Ran that tiller for a couple of hours grinding up all the weedy grassy growth that the garden’s steady diet of horse manure brings. The witchgrass is the very worst! The asparagus are totally infiltrated by that stuff.

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I don’t mind weeding, but witchgrass really sucks. The roots travel like tens  of feet and go deep. But, witchgrass can’t even THINK about touching our latest garden wonder, helianthus tuberosus. Better known as “Jerusalem Artichokes”, these hardy tubers are said to be tough to get rid of once they are planted. Perennials they are. They are delicious no matter how you eat them. Cooked any number of ways or even raw (after careful washing), they have a lovely nutty flavor, somewhat reminiscent of artichokes, but slightly starchy. And they are prolific. The moles made out well with them last winter, but they are coming up gangbusters now.

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Helianthus Tuberosus Gangbusters.

They don’t look like much now, but they will produce sunflower-like stalks over 8 feet high with little yellow flowers that follow the sun across the sky every day, just like their sunflower cousins. They are from a variety called “Stampede” from Johnny’s Seeds of Albion, Maine. They will take over the whole west end of our garden over time. Fine with me.

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Finally, here’s the garlic, which was planted last fall. In the same bed was planted garlic from the supermarket. Supermarket garlic came up nicely in our extended 2006 autumn, but has not returned this spring. I think it either got confused or winter killed. What came up this spring was good quality organic seed garlic. You can almost see in where the deer have been nibbling it. They like to come into our backyard in the early spring, usually just before dawn.

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Responses

  1. Great garden and yard. Never heard of the Jerusalem Artichokes but you have sparked my interest. I will have to see if I can find some and give them try.

  2. Thanks Dausta! We do love our gardening! I recommend Johnny’s for the Jerusalem Artichokes. Don’t know what zone you’re in, but Johnny’s ships the tubers in October and that’s when to plant them here in northern New England. The variety name “Stampede” says a lot about their growing habit. I gave lots of them away for seed and food last fall and we ate lots of them ourselves (they are very yummy) but didn’t make the slightest dent in their resurgence this spring. They are going to be spreading, for sure.


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