Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Catching Up: Gardens

Oh, the gardens. My Achilles Heel this year.

Watermelons, cantaloupes, green beans, tomatoes, okra, and cucumbers.
The pigs and chickens have done a great job tilling and rotating through. We've had lots of sunflowers and melons grow, and our tomato plants have done fairly well.

But, there's a long way to go yet.

The major issue I have is with planting time. Once the pigs and chickens get moved on to new ground, I've been left with a 512-square-foot plot of (mostly) plant-free, manured, tilled ground.

I just haven't been planting in it.

I've had moderate success scattering some sunflower seeds in one patch, and I tried oats in another which did NOT work. Then, we started getting what I call feral melons - watermelon and cantaloupes fed to the pigs that then sprout into new plants a few days after they've moved on. I guess the stomach juices and, ahem, fertilizer sprout the melon seeds like crazy. They do those with tomatoes, too - I've got about 100 baby tomato plants in one patch.

But, since I'm tired and it's late when I get finished moving the system, I have yet to come out and plant in it. I know I need to. It's tough planting that much space by hand. It takes a few hours to get it right. Our garden last year took at least 10 hours to plant completely, and that's only a little bigger than what I get each week. I simply don't have 7 to 8 hours after I move the paddocks, and the idea of shceduling that in to my day is, quite frankly, paralyzing. So, several plots are left unplanted.

The trick is getting this much, every day, for 6 months, to feed us for a year.
Another problem is that the tilling has been stirring up weed seeds, and they've taken over the unplanted gardens. Some have Bermuda grass (GGRRRR!!!!!), and other have just weeds. It's too much to weed by hand at this point. I hope that the twice-yearly clearing, plus a little more dedication and effort on my part to get good stuff planted, will soon deplete the weed population and leave us in a more fertile holding pattern.

We also have had NO squashes this year. Not a one. The squash bugs and the weeds have seen to that. We've had some melons and some cukes, sure, but no zucchini, no yellow squash, no butternut, no grey zukes, nothing. It's been disappointing to say the least.

Soon, I'll need to get a planter to make seeding go faster. I've got my eye on a wheel based seeder and a seedling planter for next season. Having the right tools makes any task less daunting, and so far this year, seeding and transplanting the garden has been my downfall. I believe the right tools will make the difference.

For now, I have carrots, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and lettuces to plant this week, sometime. And more melons growing. And new tomato plants cropping up.

If it wasn't for my overall lack of time, this would be a very good problem to have.

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