However, this fine example of the way global climate change is going to affect us over the next couple of decades aside, I've been wanting spring to be here already. I know I'm probably early (after all, it seems to be November here, even though it's March), but I'm really not used to planting times in a Mediterranean-like climate. And this year, we've got a garden.
I've written about it before, building the raised beds and setting up the poles that will carry the tunneling plastic. But I started some rosemary seeds six weeks back (like I said, I've been hurrying the season a bit), and some tomato seeds a couple of weeks ago. And rosemary seeds either have really have a crap germination rate, or I'm doing something really really wrong.
But looking at the fragile little sprouts in their peat pellets has been making me want to get my hands dirty. So yesterday, Paula and I went to the garden centre to buy more dirt.
Over the winter we've noticed that the rains have made the soil in the beds less fluffy--which was expected. So now we're topping off the topsoil/compost mix with more soil in order to fill the beds. To the tune of 4+ cubic feet per bed.
Unlike on the farm, we don't have a lot of room, so we're having to look at more intensive methods of growing vegetables this time around. I've always wanted to try forcing potatoes in a cylinder. I first heard about this a couple of decades back as a method for re-using car tires.
At its heart, it is just a different form of hilling potatoes; on the farm, we would plant potatoes in hilled rows, and then a couple of times during the season (after they were growing well, we would push up more dirt onto the rows. The purpose was two-fold; to partly bury the green sprouting tops, forcing them to continue to grow higher before bushing out. And, secondly, to add loose dirt around the plants to encourage the root systems to spread. When working in a cylinder, you've defined how far outwards a plant can grow, so you add soil to the top, forcing the potato greens to continue growing vertically. This vertical growth means that the plant will produce more tuber nodes, and so more potatoes. I still remember the article I read back in the day saying as much as a bushel of potatoes off one plant (which is a heck of a lot of potatoes!).
|My new potato barrels|
The thing I like about the expanded metal is that even if I over-water the plants in the cylinders, there's plenty of places for the water to go. Also, I can wrap them with plastic if necessary, making them into miniature greenhouses.
I also decided to take a shot that this really is spring; I planted some German Giant and Red Bell (?) radishes. Radishes are very cold tolerant and were the first seed in and out of the farm garden. The plants can take a little cold and mature in about a month.
Paula decided to take her own shot, and bought some started Sugar Snap peas. She planted them along the end of the frame I planted the radishes in. I also picked up some floating crop cover the other day, and I've put it over the peas and radishes. Floating crop cover is the best thing in the world for radishes, as it keeps the insects that like to lay their eggs on radishes out of the planting. This means no worm damage to the vegetable when harvested.
Hopefully the floating crop cover will keep the rabbits out as well. We spotted one in the garden Friday night, and noticed s/he had dug up one corner in one of our frames. Rabbits may prove to be a major problem.....
|Garden sheds and cold frame|
The rest of the garden is coming along nicely. We're in the university community garden and the garden was moved last fall to this new location. the two garden sheds (above) have been brought in and we noticed the cold frame has been installed alongside them.
Compost bins have also been built. I was really impressed by them. They are sized by the pallets that they are built with. Each bin is made up of pallets on three sides, and 2 x 6 lumber on the fourth side.
|The line up of six compost bins|
|Some construction detail|
The bins are finished with hinged lids of 6mm plywood and 19mm x 75mm lumber to reinforce the ply. My only quibble would be that the lids don't slope, and without regular upkeep, the lids will perish a bit quicker than might be liked.
Ours is not the only garden, of course. And others are working hard to make things happen. Not everyone is concerned with intensively-gardened vegetables; below is a spiral herb garden I immediately loved. At the moment you can only really see the large rosemary plant, but later this year there will be a lot of interesting plants to bed seen.
|Spiral herb garden|
|More blueberry bushes than you can actually see|
There's still a fair bit to be done. I want another, narrower raised bed for beans and tomatoes (I managed to snag a couple of beans from the Rainbow Kitchen garden to grow this summer. We also stumbled across a Medlar tree at the garden centre which is now living in a pot at the garden. And, before fall, we have to have our seed saving regime in place. So here's hoping this really is spring here on the coast.