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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How does your garden grow.....

Been a while since I did an update on my garden!

The boxes are all in and filled. and performing as planned.  I first put a layer of plastic down, cut a few slits to allow it to drain, then a thick layer of magazines and newspaper went in, then the dirt.  I was very worried that the soil wasn't going to be very pretty but it was better than I expected.  We would remove the plants from an pre-scouted area away from contaminates, and use the layer just beneath that.  I found it had some old peat, some organic matter, some sand, and clay.  I found if we went too deep it became nothing but rock and clay.  Even being really picky though I found that the soil was pretty varied between the boxes, some ended up with more sand, some with more rocks, etc.  Next season I'm going to have to find a way to add more organic material though...somehow.  My boxes were 2 feet deep and I filled them about 1 1/2 feet full, I figured the bit of a lip would protect the little plants from being blown to bits and it would allow me to attach a plastic cover without it touching them if I had to.  I did a few soil tests and found the soil to be absolutely devoid of nitrogen.  Which made me panic. lol  I mixed in some organic fertilizer I bought this winter but I should have bought more.  This week I am ordering some blood meal and giving that a try...and hoping that I don't attract unwanted visitors!  I also wanted to try and get some kelp, will need to find what combo and amount will work.

*Update - I tried to order from one place and they informed me it had too much nitrogen to mail.  Which made me giggle.  Then I frowned.  This might be a challenge!

I built a short wall on the north side of the garden that is about waist high. It worked really great for cutting down the wind but on some days it is not enough.  We also found someone was getting rid of a small water storage tank and we drug it home and chopped off the top so I can reach into it easily enough.  It holds about 60 gallons or more, though I haven't actually filled it to the top yet.  We have it positioned to catch as much rain water as possible, and I have secured some bug netting over the top so it doesn't become a mosquito breeding ground.  I found that if I spend a half hour or so hauling water from the river (for my tank and the dogs) it will last me about 3-4 days, more if it rains.  The mosquitoes have arrived, and they brought the gangs of horseflies with them.  So far I have counted about 12 bites. 

Hows the plants doing?  Good and bad.  The plants that I started indoors are not looking too hot.  I think I totally did not expect the extreme differences in temperature and weather conditions that come with spring time here.  We would go from 15 mph gusts and thunderstorms to 90 degrees and sunny, to night temperatures dipping below 35 degrees.  One night we dropped 50 degrees in 12 hours.  I don't think the week that I hardened the plants off really prepared them for that!  I kept them all covered in clear plastic for the worst of it but they are all looking pretty unhappy, especially the squash.  I watched in horror as they went from happy and green to almost leafless little stalks.  I'm sure the lack of nutrients might have had something to do with it too.  The peppers are actually doing the best out of that groups surprisingly.  I have already talked to my husband about building me a good sized cold frame with some old windows that we got from the school remodel.  Maybe if I am better prepared next year they will survive!  The tomatoes are hanging on with all their might, though the growth slowed down and the old leaves are yellowing a bit.

Everything has sprouted...mostly.  The carrots took a while and I thought the seed was gone till pretty much a couple days ago.  None of my soy sprouted and I will have to figure out what went wrong there.  The oats and corn are doing really well as far as I can tell...but I seriously would not know! lol  I kept the corn under plastic most of the time, though now I only cover them up if the wind is going to be bad.  I have some leftover straw still in the bag from the dogs winter beds and I plan to use it as mulch once the plants get tall enough.  The surface of the soil in the bins can get a bit crusty from and it has me worried that water will just sit on the top and do bad things.  The radish look like they were always here and just decided to grow in my box, and though the lettuce sprouted happily they took a long time to develop the 'true' leaves and I think it's because of the nitrogen deficiency.  Both types of peas look happy, and the potatoes have merged in thick short mass of leaves, and I am thinking I should have separated the eyes a bit more than I did. I absolutely forgot to start my sunflower and so those are not going to be grown this year and I'm a bit sad about that.  I have already begun to get familiar with the little weeds trying to grow in my bins, mostly stinkweed (wormwood), grass, and chickweed.   The bugs and spiders love my bins for some reason, which means the little finches and  robins regularly visit to clean them out.  I watch them hunt the insects and if they start getting frisky and start to dig for more I 'psst!' at them ...and they stop and fly away in a huff.  A few summers ago we got grasshoppers and I'm hoping they don't come back this year!

So basically I have begun my list of things I will do for next year, and I am crossing my fingers in hopes that something will make it to harvest.  I have several visitors a couple of times of week, locals that are curious to see how it is going and what I am growing.  The kids are especially interested, though they seem to be a little disappointed that my plants are so tiny right now.  I promise them I'll call them when if something needs to be harvested. 

The temperature is pretty stable now so now I will have more time to adventure in the wilderness, and work on my bug bite collection.  The temp gets about 70-80 in the day and 45-50 at night, and the sun never just kind of dips below the mountains, casting long purple shadows.

While I was gathering willow switches for a fish trap (if I ever finish it I will post it!) and I sat down to take a break...out of the corner of my eye I saw a brown and white blur zipping amongst the rocks.  Cute little guy.  I told my husband if I ever get a chance to have one as a pet I will take it.

Our oldest dog has a very bad knee and so can't go on the 15 mile runs like she used to.  Instead ever few days when it hot out we take her to deep pond and throw sticks for her to chase.  She absolutely loves you can see.  And it prevents her from getting bored and square.

Lingonberry blooms. 

My baby oats.  Not very impressive but I am so happy they are growing!

Baby radish. 

baby corn. 


  1. Those plants look pretty good. Have you thought about using PSG (Peruvian seabird guano)? It's a bit pricy, but a little can go a long way if you mix it with warm water to put it in solution. We've always had really good luck using that for tomatoes and eggplant. My husband has a degree in chemistry, so he's my fertilizer expert :).

    1. I was looking at the guano and wondering about them! I am really afraid to just start throwing things into the ground and over doing it, so sometime this week I will pick two or three things and stick with them this season. I'm still playing around with the idea of a local fertilizer, but it seems such a daunting task! i know the plants here thrive on...something...just got to figure it out!