I've moved!

I've moved!

Thanks for stopping by, but it appears you are using a (very) old address for my blog. I've moved to a Wordpress site and you'll need to update your bookmarks for Bees on the Knob

I've moved!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Garden Recap - April

I haven't made many posts here recently - the rain that settled in this summer put a huge damper on my gardening (but not on the weeds). Most of the fruit simply rotted away (from fungal infections, it looked like) after 3+ weeks of solid rain. One exception was the muscadines and the kiwi (which we don't get every year). The kiwi is finally ripe enough to eat (you must wait until they soften or they are so sour that they rival lemons), although they are not much to look at. No pictures of them today, but I'm going to include some pictures from the garden, from April of this year, before the weeds took over.

This is the eastern fenceline of the garden (we have deer, but not very persistent ones - the fence is too low for an area with heavy deep populations; our stay outside the garden and graze in the fields), which is covered with kiwi plants (4 females and one male) and closeups of my female Kolomikta kiwi (finally large enough to flower and start to get a bit of color and the Arguta female that actually has had fruit a few times, both in flower. I also have a fuzzy kiwi, which blooms each year, but has been unsuccesful in setting fruit. It turns out that my male blooms at too early a time and misses the females most years (it is also smaller and more frost damage prone, so doesn't flower at all some years). I do wish I'd set the plants farther apart - they are at 8 feet and I think 15-16 would have been better (and so would a taller fenceline, maybe 8' instead of 5'). However, as you can see they would make a great, edible privacy fence (although your neighbors might complain a bit about having to trim their side each year).

In this set of pictures, you can see the potatoes that are up (and the soaker hoses that I don't think we used all summer), the late, purple asparagus and the meal we had the next day, after digging up a few of those early potatoes. The thinner asparagus is an all green variety, which was billed as Super Male and although it is mostly male, it definitely isn't all male. The Purple variety also isn't all male, yet it makes a much larger and more tender spear (males supposedly are better, as they don't waste resources growing berries). Since we do have berries on the plants all summer, each spring I find more asparagus hiding out in the garden (and in the orchard, under the fence for the grapes, so I know birds love the berries). These baby plants do take a bit longer to grow (2-3 years longer than buying roots), but they are also entirely free. Sometimes they are purple, sometimes green - the strongest ones I usually move to the asparagus row to fill in bare spots and extend it's length.

As you can see, by mid-April, some of the younger asparagus has already started to grow out. Once the spears on a clump get smaller than a pencil in diameter, I let that clump grow and stengthen up for the next year. As a result, we seldom eat asparagus as small as that seen in stores and ours is a lot more tender, as well. Since the harvest often starts in early march, but the time it quits, I'm glad to see it gone and don't miss it during the rest of the year. By this time, we've also started harvesting rhubarb, as you can see from the dead leaves left as mulch from a previous picking. Rhubarb isn't the happiest of plants in our garden (or anywhere in the south) - the summers simply get too hot and it's been much too dry, of late (this year being an exception). I can't help with the heat, although it has been much cooler this year and the rhubarb has been thriving, but I can help with the dry. You'll see a utility sink a bit upslope, that I use to wash off produce before it heads indoors, which keeps most of the mud out of the house. I hook up a short hose to the drain and let the runoff seep into the rhubarb, effectively watering it each time I trim and rinse produce. Since I've done this, the rhubarb has went from a couple of shriveled leaves all summer to looking like a healthy plant (but still nowhere near the size you'll see wild in much wetter climates with colder winters, such as South Dakota or Minnesota. The last picture in the set is the greenhouse, now stripped of plastic and nearly ready for the spring/summer season. We'll have to replace the chicken wire at the bottom (nailed to the foundation boards), or the rabbits eat everything inside that survives the puppies playing in it (which would not be much, as the puppies play pretty roughly ... maybe next year they'll have grown up enough to allow in the garden when I'm working). The ribs and supports are just standard PVC used for plumbing - we were told it would not stand up to outdoor use and we have had one rib crack and need repair, but it's now been in place nearly 15 years and the main upkeep has been a new plastic covering each fall (a black walnut tree used to attack it each year, but we've now removed it, as it was also dropping nuts into the garden, plus the greenhouse would get too hot to grow anything in the summer if left covered, so we take down the covering each spring).