Saturday, May 16, 2009

Let's Go Gardening...

Here are some photos of the garden from its beginning at Hawkins Street to its planting at Ecotone. So far, there are six varieties of tomatoes - including my favorite, Cherokee Purples - peppers, eggplants, broccoli, greens, kale, carrots, and several varieties of lettuce.

In this garden, we're experimenting with no-till practices. It's really very simple and is supposed to be considerably less labor intensive. Relying on Lee Reich's Weedless Gardening, first we clip the grass as close to the ground as possible. Then we put either cardboard or at least six layers of newspaper (at this point I would only recommend the former), wet it, and place two-year old compost sufficient to support the seedlings. If starting from seed, less soil is necessary. Finally, and following the notion that bare soil is unhappy soil, we've mulched the beds with straw. These steps are necessary only in the first year. We'll see. But the idea is that the cardboard completely blocks the sunlight the grass and weeds need to grow up in the bed, while simultaneously being permeable enough for the roots of the vegetables to grow down into the undisturbed ecosystem of the top soil.

The boss of the garden is Bear, a chocolate lab we adopted a few weeks ago from Cunningham, TN. Every night, Bear is ceremonially ensconced in the garden on the hypothesis that he might serve the same function as an expensive, unsightly, and probably ineffective deer fence. The idea came to me while working in the garden and hearing our neighbor's chained up pit bull bark senselessly into the afternoon. What if that dog had a job, I thought? If he were chained up at the corner of the garden, would a deer dare venture into vicinity? To be sure, this would depend on how how hungry she is; but given the fact that Frank Krantz is feeding them down in the holler, perhaps there's easier food there. The only other issue with dogs in the garden, of course, is their disappointing ignorance of the boundaries of beds. To address this, we've put surveyor stakes with white string (but now we also have bright orange) strung between them. I've seen Bear and Ozark running at top speed playing and vere off to avoid it. So far so good, but we've also yet to encounter hot dogs and cool soil during the dog days of summer.

1 comment:

  1. CJ: Forrest and I have been eating greens every day from the "no-till" garden between our houses you and Mary B. helped us prepare. The veggies are delicious and this method of gardening is definitely working over here. Thank you for all your help. I look forward to coming out to your new place Saturday with my truck load full of fresh compost and dirt!
    Susan Lewis