Friday, May 14, 2010

Garden Sprawl Friday

Some potatoes that were missed last year:

They were still good. They keep well in the soil. Some others also that I found from last year I planted in a container. And I noticed recently there are still two others sending up their stems and leaves, but they are too close to lettuces and cabbages to dig up right now.

I like a bit of jostling in my garden. I like to have the foundations right, and everything planned as to companion planting, the spaces of cool crops coinciding with the coming warm crops, knowing what time it generally takes for crops to get to maturity, crop rotation, saving seed and so forth; but once I have that, I keep it loose and ready, rough-and-tumble. I'm a wannabe Aussie who is trying to reconcile himself with French Intensive Gardening, the latter one being something I can for now, only imitate in the most fledgling sort of way.

A tradition I started last year is to take the blessed palm leaf from Palm Sunday Mass and, on Good Friday, cut it into pieces and bury a piece in each bed. On that same Good Friday I also plant the potatoes. Of course, I think this tradition, as far as the potatoes are concerned, would not be observed if Good Friday fell on too late a date.

Here is where I planted the potatoes:

I dug trenches, putting the soil in lengths beside each trench. Into the trenches I planted the spuds, some inches under the soil. As the stems and leaves rise you hoe down the soil that was stacked beside the trenches around the growing potato plants.

Some would say that having the soil as high as I did above the trenches (which can't be seen in the above picture as it is after some of the soil was hoed down) was a big no-no, as the potato seed could get drowned and rotted and blah, blah, blah. One thing I've discovered about gardening is that the more regularly and unswervingly you follow the "rules", the shittier you grow stuff.

It's all about catching onto rhythms which you observe, not countering potential negative setbacks. For instance, some would say having lots of leaves in your garden over winter and keeping them there and digging them in in the spring is potential for disease. Not say I, after I observe how many thick and juicy dew worms are now in my garden beds when I go out at night to kill slugs.

Along the outsides of the potato planting I transplanted cabbages that I grew from seed in the greenhouse. I planted them after the potato plants made a good appearance. Potatoes and cabbages like each other. The cabbages are an early variety: Early Jersey Wakefield. They grow modest pointed heads in short time and are considered by many the best tasting of the cabbages. The potaotes are also an early to mid season variety. The reason for this is that I will hopefully be using the same patch for later crops, one of which doesn't like potatoes.

You can see, in the third row from the left that I also transplanted from the greenhouse some Komatsuna - Japanese Mustard Spinach:

At the northern end where that cheap wire fencing is, are these spinaches:

Filling any cranny with a quick maturing crop...I'm all for that. Some 'Baby Green' romaines behind the garlic:

And I have to do that (not to mention pushing the stuff on friends), because I over-seeded the greenhouse:

At present after much transplanting:

So, here is what a bed looks like after being transplanted with some of the lettuce (and onions which are too small to see):

And later:

In between the lettuce plantings are the onions:

In my nightly battle with the slugs I do notice that they generally go after leaves that are already dying, like for instance the natural die-off of the outer leaves of lettuce when you transplant them. They clean up. Though of course they will also go after healthy green. And it is true: pests generally go after crops that are weakened, whereas healthy plants have a certain repelling quality.

Now, here are some of the overwintered plants. These are the carrots, of the number that made it through:

Those January King cabbages, starting now to head-up nicely (there's seven of them):

With this one by the leeks it's eight:

And I'm going to let these leeks (and the ones above) go to seed, for saving. There is, I believe sixteen leeks. The recommended minimum for saving seed from an out-breeding crop (as opposed to an inbreeding crop, such as lettuce or beans) is twelve plants, for the home gardener.

Here you can see how far along they already are:

The garlic. Three varieties which I should have labelled (the Aussie!):


christopher said...

Awesome, nicely done, and "good on ya" for not listening to the experts. The experts only rely on generalities. I've found that every single yard is it's own unique micro-environment that defies all wisdom. Because of windbreaks, different qualities and compositions of soil, where pipes and electric lines run, almost anything can manage to survive almost anywhere (within reason).

I'm not big on the leeks and cabbages and turnips and other popular edibles because I really don't like them. This year, I've decided to just focus on the few I'll eat like green beans and carrots and pumpkins just for Halloween (my patch of 100 onions has just recently been wiped out by unknown forces - only one flowering one left standing.)

Texas is a much more intimidating place to try to make things grow than in BC. I find that ornamentls that attract butterflies and hummingbirds are pretty challenging but incredibly satisfying when you're successful. And it's touch and go with the roses, still learning.

Keep up the gardening posts, I like being jealous.

Paul Stilwell said...

Thanks Christopher; I do hope to keep the posts coming. I enjoy your posts as well. It's fascinating to see those flowers and other plants with which I am totally unfamiliar.

"I've found that every single yard is it's own unique micro-environment that defies all wisdom. Because of windbreaks, different qualities and compositions of soil, where pipes and electric lines run, almost anything can manage to survive almost anywhere (within reason)."

Amen! These words are a boon to read!

I can definitely understand about leeks, cabbages etc. I fondly regard them as the "old stand-bys". But there are, for me, a select few recipes in which I enjoy them. Beans, carrots and pumpkins are some of the most enjoyable to grow, aren't they?

Yeah, we do have it sort of easy in BC, but I imagine peppers, eggplants and tomatoes and such things get good mileage where you are? Here you can grow them, if you grow the right varieties, but we get the cool nights...and the end of summer rain, when just a bit more dryness would help in ripening.

Enbrethiliel said...


I have no practical experience when it comes to gardening. (I was always the honest, ashamed student who brought the pot of soil and dead seeds to school at the end of the quarter, so the teacher wouldn't fail her outright.)

But I show up now because I love this line:

Potatoes and cabbages like each other.

It reminded me of the young Mozart discovering the piano for the first time and looking for notes that "liked each other."

Paul Stilwell said...

I'm curious to know what you had to grow.

I have more than my fair share of non-germinations, botched germinations and trees on their way to being beautiful bonzai killed off because I forgot to water them...'re saying I'm like Mozart?


Enbrethiliel said...


I planted watermelons. They hated me.

I'm saying . . . that I think I want to play the "Which composer does your gardening style invoke?" game now.

Paul Stilwell said...



Just for your consolation, I was planning to try watermelons this year, quite looking forward to growing them in fact, and I finally decided *against* them and scrapped the plan.

I knew there was a reason I made that decision.