Monday, 3 July 2017

Midsummer Garden Update

It's been a while since I've given a garden update. To cut to the chase, this has been a very frustrating year. Between the rain (nearly constant) and the critters things are on the whole below average to bad. It has been nice not to have to water, beyond one dryish week that pretty much coincided with our planting the bulk of the seeds, but the weeding has been stupendous. We had deer getting in for a while in the earlier spring but Mr. Ferdzy got up early one morning and caught one in the act. He was able then to find where it was getting in and out and reinforce that bit of fence, and we haven't had a deer since. Rabbits, oy.

Above are peanuts, looking okay from a distance. They are not actually doing too badly in spite of having been nibbled by marauding rabbits. It has been cool enough and wet enough we expect to keep them covered off and on all summer, hence the hoops and plastic to go over them.

Those carrots sure look lush! Especially the front half which is seed I saved from last year. This is one of the few times I have managed to save carrot seed. The bad news is I have a horrible fear that the father of all of it may be Queen Anne's Lace... time will tell. The garlic looks good but I am seeing signs of possible virus in some of them. Or maybe they are just in danger of drowning. IT HAS BEEN SO WET. Fortunately (or unfortunately in dry years) our soil is sandy and fast-draining. But still. SO WET.

The section next to the garlic looks good, but it's mostly weeds. There are a reasonable amount of parsnips in it, but the beet seed hardly germinated. I will try replanting it again this week; fortunately they are fast enough that they should still have time to mature.

Tomatoes are in and trellised and mostly growing well; ditto the squash, melons, and cucumbers. We had some problems with rabbits (?) nibbling on the tomato plants and killing a couple. Fortunately we had replacements still on hand - we always grow extra plants, most of which we hope to compost - and they are a little behind but at least there.

This bed looks pretty bad, but in fact it's good. This was our weedy horrible mess, now cleared out. We expected an immediate regrowth of weeds and there is some but not as bad as we feared. If we can keep it clear we will plant peonies all down the middle in the fall.

That one big clump of green at the far end is my sorrel; it survived this attempt on its' life and is recovering nicely.

Mr. Ferdzy now has all the previously unfinished inner walkways dug out and ready for gravel. We will be travelling next week to visit relatives, but after that he plans to order gravel and get it moved in. That will finish the gravel paths (for now at least) and will be a momentous occasion!

Because we hope to be away all next winter in Spain we are growing peas and beans more for seed saving and breeding purposes than eating, freezing, and drying purposes. We are growing small quantities of lots of different things, including quite a lot of crossed peas and beans saved from the last couple of years. I will be excited to see how these turn out if not eaten by rabbits. We are also trying 3 different kinds of Lima beans.

Mr. Ferdzy got fed up with how much work it is to string all these trellises and experimented with some lathing instead but I think his conclusion was that it is faster to put up but has other problems.

The 2 carrot plants above are self sown. I am starting to be able to tell the difference between Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrots) and domesticated carrots. The one on the left is a domesticated carrot, with slightly sparser, much more upright leaves. I suspected the one on the right of being a wild carrot, because the leaves were fuller and tended to spread out lower.

I scraped away enough soil to determine the carrot on the left was a real orange carrot, and pulled up the other one. It looks like a wild-domestic cross; that's a wild type root but larger and fuller than usual. It isn't guaranteed that the sparser leafed, more upright plants are domestic carrots, but I have yet to see a spreading or branching specimen that wasn't a wild carrot.

Peas and beans are trellised; again we had some problems with them being nibbled on by rabbits. We seem to be having a real outbreak of them this year. They have occasionally wandered in in the past but it's been rare that they've been persistent pests. We have been putting out traps for them but no luck. Not surprising. Why go into a trap to eat tired picked vegetables when there is an all-you-can-eat buffet of fresh, living vegetables all around you already? We may try a sonic device to keep them off if they persist.

That last bed on the right was also a disappointment. We grew chick peas successfully for the first time last year, but we didn't know when to pick them and they stayed in the garden too long, got rained on and went a bit mouldy. Not good enough to eat but I saved the best for seed. However the germination rate was just terrible. I seeded several times, hundreds of seeds each time, and we have have about 30 plants. Good enough to keep us in seed I hope, providing they are not nibbled to death by rabbits, a possible outcome it has to be admitted.

Our peas for freezing are a bit of a mess this  year. In addition to the rabbits, the deer were breaking in for while and wreaking havoc. Plus we were short on seed and they were spaced at 6" apart and not 4", our preferred distance for packed beds like this. Six inches allows way too much room for weeds and we have 'em. Plus I got so absorbed in weeding I forgot to pick the peas and the first batch got a little over mature. *sigh* Good thing a certain amount of this was intended for seed anyway.

On the right are onions from last year, going to seed; the seedlings for this years onions are behind them. The sweet potatoes and peanuts are big heat lovers and benefit from being covered with plastic whenever it's anything less than outright hot.

And that brings us full circle around the garden. We are resigned to the fact that this is going to be more of a make-progress-on-infrastructure year than a great vegetable year, but at least we are making a lot of progress on the infrastructure and re-jigging of the garden. I have booked 2 days of help to come in September and pull out and move or discard a lot of plants. Then we will seed over those old beds with grass and probably have about 20% to 25% fewer beds going forward. We love our garden except its sheer size has been burning us out, and we want some time off to rest and pursue other interests on occasion. Overall in spite of the frustrations of this year we are happy with the longer term direction of the garden for the first time in several years and the end of garden infrastructure construction seems to finally be in sight.


Marnie said...

It's just that kind of a year. I just salvaged a bowlful of tiny new potatoes from plants that were rotting away with all the rain. "Next year!" (Every gardener ever.)

Ferdzy said...

Absolutely! Sorry about your potatoes. Next year indeed...