Posted by: David | May 29, 2013

Garden Is A Verb

Yes, another post. Aren’t you the lucky one, dear reader?! This post is dedicated to my good friend and commenter, vermonter, who recently expressed interest in the progress of this year’s garden. It reminded me that garden journal was one of the sub-purposes to this otherwise random endeavor. Over the years, some of my best, uh, thinking happens while gardening. Which then reminded me that a garden is something that you do, not so much something that you have. 

These trees were too big for Dave and his Giant Chainsaw.

These trees were too big for Dave and his Giant Chainsaw.

We hired a crew late last autumn to take down some half-dozen really large trees that were too close to our house. This dangerous closeness to the house was pointed out to us by Irene and Sandy. Thanks ladies. The project cost some major dollars, but the crew removed everything except for 3 large piles of wood chips. We didn’t have firm plans for these chips, but we knew we could develop some pretty easily come the following spring and summer.

Giant wood chip pile under the apple trees.

Giant wood chip pile under the apple trees.

So here’s where the chips fell. We’re trying something new in the gardens this year. After preparing and fertilizing each planting bed, we covered them with this black, permeable landscaping fabric. Then we filled the paths in between the beds with many wheelbarrow loads of the tree chips, laid atop kraft paper (horse bedding shavings bags).  The covered beds were then mulched with oat straw (expensive @ $10/bale but nicely free of sprouting seeds). This layered affair seems, so far, to be putting a serious dent in the weed sprouting.

Diagram: Oat straw, landscape fabric, wood chips, soil ...

Diagram: Oat straw, landscape fabric, wood chips, soil …

We’ll see how this progresses. One thing I anticipate is having to remove the landscape fabric from under the straw mulch next autumn. The fabric is not biodegradable and will need to be removed. I wonder whether it can be used for more than one season. Obviously one needs to make holes in it where the plants go. Then there’s the question as to how fast the wood chips will decompose into the soil.

As it is every year, the garden is experimental. This year’s experiment has been one of the more intricate procedures. Let the photo essay begin …

Beds 1 and 2 planted with onion seedlings a few weeks ago. They're still small, but doing well.

Beds 1 and 2 planted with onion seedlings a few weeks ago. They’re still small, but doing well. At the front of bed 2 are some red onions planted for seed crop. Parsley, barely visible, in front and back of bed 1.

Apparently, the forsythia was too aggressively pruned last autumn ... the bird bath now lives there, and the birds like it better.

Apparently, the forsythia was too aggressively pruned last autumn … the bird bath now lives there, and the birds like it better.

 

Beds 3. 4. 5, not planted yet. Probably peppers. Bed 6 (left of frame) is garlic that's doing the best. See "Garlic Discrepancy" below ...

Beds 3. 4. 5, not planted yet. Probably peppers. Bed 6 (left of frame) is garlic that’s doing the best. See Garlic Discrepancy below …

We've decided to fence in all our brassicas, of which the deer are especially fond. Outside the fence are two perennials: lovage.

We’ve decided to fence in all our brassicas, of which the deer are especially fond. Outside the fence are two perennials: lovage.

Also in the fenced area, asparagus, a bed of red potatoes, leeks, and Jerusalem Artichokes.

Also in the fenced area; asparagus, a bed of red potatoes, leeks, and Jerusalem Artichokes.

We're probably ready to start putting all these plants out now. We had a frost scare on the last full moon- last week.

We’re probably ready to start putting all these plants out now. We had a frost scare on the last full moon- last week.

Alternated planting of purple and green cabbages.

Alternated planting of purple and green cabbages.

Baby Brussels sprouts.

Baby Brussels sprouts.

Now let's go over to the garden behind the horse barn!

Now let’s go over to the garden behind the horse barn!

Here are the major cultivation tools, resting in the shed at the back of the barn.

Here are the major cultivation tools, resting in the shed at the back of the barn.

Our cat Hunter likes to hang out in and around the horse barn.

Our cat Hunter likes to hang out in and around the horse barn.

Garlic Discrepancy. The plants on the left are significantly bigger than those on the right.

Garlic Discrepancy. The plants on the left are significantly bigger than those on the right.

Oh dear, the memory of this INFP (yeah, that’s what the MBTI says I am) is not even a sieve. It’s just a hole. Luckily there is this writing thing that allows one to reference those perceptions of the distant past. Looks like the reason that garlic in the right of the frame above is smaller because the second half of the insane 600 cloves planted last autumn was planted from smaller cloves at a closer spacing. Glad I wrote that down in the cloud …

The bigger plants enjoying a sunny day.

The bigger plants enjoying a sunny day.

The horseradish my friend Nancy gave me is thriving in its 3rd year of living in a mini-prison of boulders. It's reaching out ...

The horseradish my friend Nancy gave me is thriving in its 3rd year of living in a mini-prison of boulders. It’s reaching out …

Two beds west of the garlic, the area for sweet corn is staked out. Believe it or not, the cord between the stakes is telephone cable I got at the town dump.

Two beds west of the garlic, the area for sweet corn is staked out. Believe it or not, the cord between the stakes is telephone cable I got at the town dump.

Two beds between garlic and corn will be tomatoes. They’re still not in the ground. Below the corn will be the usual squashes and pumpkins. We did some clearing that should allow the squash vines to seek the sun further west rather than invading the cornstalks. This may require some training of the vines. That has never gone so well.

If you happened to visit and expected to not find a new post, sorry about that. The statement about wrapping up this here blog has turned out to be as dependable as so many of the other statements issued here.

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Responses

  1. Wondering how you have time for anything other than gardening (looks a lot like farming to me), enjoying the whimsy of the alternating cabbages, trying to remember if I’ve seen that very handsome kitty before, and now salivating at the mention of “sweet corn.” Looks like you’re having a fine spring.

    Hi Pied, yes, so far this spring has been pretty great on the home front. It seems that I have just enough time after all. If that makes any sense. The days I’d scheduled to vacate from work proved to be well-timed.

  2. Cool! I have a horseradish plant and it looks stunning. It knows it looks stunning, I think. My sage is pretty but my cilantro keeps flowing and has no leaves to pick – darn ol thing. HAPPY to see your garden. 🙂

    Yeah mine too. It’s always so friggin majestic. Glad you enjoyed the photos, and thank you for sayin so!

  3. Great photos! My mom would have loved your garden. I like parsley because of the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars that live on them.

    Hi Lisa! Thanks for that lovely comment. Now I’ll think of you and you and your late mother while I’m weeding. Weeding takes forever and my mind wanders all over the place. Those caterpillars are really beautiful aren’t they? They like some of the other plants in the garden too, but I haven’t seen one in a few years.

  4. I’ll soon come back to normal, too. But you know what men say and sigh when for once they have to do the dishes: “A woman’s work is never ended.”

    I look forward to your return to normalcy. I run the kitchen on the weekends and don’t say that when I do the dishes. However, washing dishes has to be one of the most universally argued-over chores that there is. Wonder why.

  5. Wow! Brilliant garden! I’m not gone either… not here, but not gone entirely. Hoping to post today, in fact!

    Thanks S. Le. I’m pretty well gone completely. Long story … no it isn’t.

    • Not dead yet, eh? Getting better, are you?

      I’m gonna go for a walk!

  6. No. I love washing dishes. The argued-over chore is dusting, which is wiping the dust off “the surfaces”. But there is no need to argue, because I do not normally notice it and so I don’t ever mind it. Hence, if you see a dusty surface, please feel free to do something about it. One way is to go huff and puff.

    I have seen it done. It is very fast. For instance, if there is a doorbell, and you are expecting a visit, it’s not too late.

    My daughter washed the dishes when she was here on her birthday. That qualifies her for beatification.

    We don’t dust our surfaces. They dust themselves. A decade or more of dust is pretty impressive.

    • A decade of dust would cover your house completely, if it were here.

      Madrid is dusty then?

  7. The little cabbage sprouts are very pretty. I thought they would be African violets or primroses.

    And the daisies? Some time ago I tried to find out most argued-over issue of Daisy vs Marguerite. In German one — but which? — is called Gänseblümchen meaning little goose flower. According to the dictionary, “Marguerite” is Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum. The Gänseblümchen are little and hide in the grass, whereas the Marguerites are tall and here, in Spain, grow as tall weeds among poppies and wild oats. But in addition there is the Chamomile, a kind of Anthemis..

    I love the way the brassicas grow. Looking down at a broccoli or cauliflower crown or up at the bottom of a cabbage always brings mathematics to mind, or that DaVinci sketch of the spiral …

  8. How do you know where to make openings for the little plants to grow through the “landscaping fabric”? I looked the fabric up in Google images, and there the lady slit the fabric open with her scissors.

    We used scissors too. The spacings are specific to the plants and how large they will be at maturity. These are well-documented measurements, often printed on the seed packages.

    • !! Everything figured out! Spacing printed on the packages! Imagine! I don’t know what to say to that. I can only think that if that were here, then the spacings would be wrong and printed on the wrong packages, and printed backwards because the printer was broken. —

      A few weeks ago, we had the visit of the other user’s childhood friend who comes here every year on an excursion, for he teaches law in France. And when he had to go back to his French university, he thought he could simply go to the local train station and order a ticket there.

      Well? He said that from his little town back in USA he would be able to order a train ticket to … and he made a gesture to indicate the confines of the world, but ended up saying…to MOSCOW! (as if that were the end of the world).

      I’m still going to assume that the farmers of Spain know how far apart to plant their artichokes, or whatever it is that they like to grow.

      I believe that there are several towns named Moscow in the USA.

      • “…..named Moscow in the USA.” Wait till the CIA finds out about it.

        I’m sure that the CIA is appropriately monitoring all the American Moscows.

  9. Vermonter is dumbstruck and humbled by your industry. she feels she must move three mountains before she can so much as salute you with the fore-finger wave should she pass you going the other way on Saturday errands. At a mere two barrows-full of alpaca poo a day, it will be at least Christmas before she can speak in your presence. Glad to know about your spring, and delighted to see Oliver. And when you get a moment you might quite enjoy http://www.bryanpfeiffer.com here on WordPress.

    Well I’m sorry to report that all this industry has gone unappreciated by our brassicas and peppers. When it rains buckets every day for a couple of weeks, the comprehensive mulching system may work against you. Some thing, or lack thereof has kept many of our seedlings in just that state. Seedlings, poor little things.

    You can speak in my presence any time, by special dispensation, in spite of your sever lassitude. Two barrows of alpaca poo is nothing to sneeze at dear vermonter! Those are some amazing critters you’ve got there. It’s very nice to picture you and your friends in the idyll of green mountains, far from the unending toil of academe.

    Nice blog recommendation too, thank you. Great nature photography!

  10. Vermonter is dumbstruck and humbled by your industry. she feels she must move three mountains before she can so much as salute you with the fore-finger wave should she pass you going the other way on Saturday errands. At a mere two barrows-full of alpaca poo a day, it will be at least Christmas before she can speak in your presence. Glad to know about your spring, and delighted to see Oliver. And when you get a moment you might quite enjoy http://www.bryanpfeiffer.com here on WordPress.


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