Friday, 1 June 2012
Another Garden Update
No surprise, the last couple weeks have been non-stop gardening pretty much. As usual, in late winter we were antsy and anxious to get started so we ordered a whole bunch of fruit trees and shrubs. I think we forgot to chant the mantra first: "Every tree, vine or shrub means digging a hole, buying or finding stakes, possibly chicken wire, cutting ground cloth to fit and watering, watering, watering for the rest of the season."
I think we ordered 49. Oops.
The good news is most of them are pretty tiny. Mr. Ferdzy is examing some of the blueberries in the photo above. It will be a few years before they are big enough for anything. We also ordered some haskap and strawberries. Oh, and sea buckthorn, Nanking cherries, sour cherries, Manchurian apricots, and kiwi - 2 kinds!
Strawberries and blueberries bought in earlier years are finally starting to look good, and in a week or so we expect to have strawberries! We're already getting the odd one. I should note that the best blueberry shrub in this bed is the one we bought at full price to replace one of the older ones, which died over the winter. We bought all the rest at half price at the end of the season 2 summers ago and they range from poor to feeble. Not worth it. Next time, we will buy them early, pay full price, and get healthy plants. However, they did produce a handful of berries last summer and look like they are on schedule to do the same again this year.
I feel like we are way behind on lots of jobs, like pulling the spinach, which has bolted early due to the extreme heat and drought we have had this spring. We're not really; the warm dry spring has also meant that we have been out there getting lots done.
For instance, potatoes are all in and squash and melons should all be in by the end of the week. We are planting large numbers of cukes, squash and melons in the expectation that this will be a hot, dry summer. Although it was strangely cold and rainy when I took these pictures.
The irrigation system we installed in some beds is working well, although the water pressure changes regularly and it needs fairly constant monitoring. Still, it has saved hours and hours of watering, which we have still had to do pretty much non-stop due to how hot and dry it has been.
The heat and drought has encouraged us to try some new things. We have bought a huge roll of landscape cloth and are planting larger plants through it. Even some not-so-large plants. These beds have been planted with corn. So far, they seem to be sprouting nicely and making it up through the little holes cut for them.
We hope this will help conserve water and as a bonus cut way, way down on the weeding. It will also keep the soil warm and since we are expecting a hot summer, we are doing this only with the heat-loving crops.
Peas are much shorter than last year (hot and dry, etc, etc) but on track for starting to produce.
These are the peas we planted in the wet beds in March. Some spotty germination in the really wet end, plus much shorter than expected. Closer examination in the last week shows that it's not all due to the heat and drought - blasted rabbits have been eating them. Damnit. It's always something.
Enormous weeds have recently been cleared from the other bed, and it's been planted with squash.
And, after all this heat and drought it is finally cool and rainy for a couple of days. Here's Mr. Ferdzy weighting things down as we are also expecting some high gusts of wind this weekend.
I did a little research and it seems a "La Niña" has just ended recently, in early April. This, I believe, is what contributed so much to our warm, dry winter and spring. Here's hoping that things will actually moderate to a more "normal" summer for the remainder of it.
One other thing we did this spring was to hire a guy with a riding rototiller (oh be still my heart) to come in and do some roto-tilling for us. The good news is that this gives us all the beds that we had planned to have over the next 5 years now. The bad news is that this gives us all the beds that we had planned to have over the next 5 years now. Yeah; wasn't really expecting to have to sift, edge and maintain 10 more beds this spring. The other good news is that Mr. Ferdzy is finally starting to grasp that we have too much going on here... some of them may actually disappear again over the next couple of years.
We've also smartened up enough to realize that even though the roto-tilled space in the photo above is destined to be 4 perennial fruit beds, we should not plant those fruits until the weeds are under control. Consequently the plan for this year and next year is to cover it with plastic or landscape cloth and plant all our extra squash and melon plants there.
On another note: I may be away from the blog for the next little while. Not only is the garden still very busy, but Dad is in the hospital with pneumonia just as a bunch of relatives are scheduled to come up and visit. I'm going to as busy as a one-armed paper-hanger, as they used to say. I'm happy to say the prognosis is looking better than it was for a couple of days there, but still, you know: busy and stressed. So I'll be back when I can.