Tag Archives: polyculture

Experimental Gardening

Vacation and preparation for vacation consumed my attention, as did the pre and post work weeks.  Arrival at home was a welcome scene as our cat bounded from lap to lap enjoying the sorely missed human contact.

Then came reality – jungle style.  Our lawn and gardens had thrived beyond our imagination during the eight days that we were absent.

Today, finally, I was able to conquer the gardens, spending time placing boundaries and limits on my crop of weeds and tending carefully to the new starts of volunteer beans, tomatoes and flowers.
coreopsis pair

Established coreopsis has quadrupled with seeds scattered during the fall.horsemint color

Horsemint, a new introduction, has thrived in the multiple locations it has been placed.sweet clover highlight

One sweet clover plant was allowed to flourish and it has attained a height of over 6 ft and a spread of at least 4 ft.
wood ear fungus

Wood ear mushrooms have staked a claim on the rotting log borders in the garden proper.baby grapesThe grape vines have set fruit abundantly, already leaving me guessing at the harvest and sharing season.
narrow leaf plantain flowers

Narrow leaf plantain has established at the garden boundary, allowing it to flower and set seed.
wild mustardWild mustard, overseeded from the fall, has established in the pollinator garden.

Overall, once the allowed weeds were culled back to an acceptable state, and the volunteer flowers were forced into their proper boundaries, the garden looked quite healthy and tidy – as tidy as a mish-mash of weeds, herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables might look.

I’m claiming success, although the season is quite early.  There are not large productions of any one thing (except grapes), but just enough of this and that to provide for our household.

Better yet, it seems to be sufficient for the large variety of natural critters that have taken up residence.

Multi-Purpose Gardening – Experimental Methods

As I had hoped, the garden has attracted a plethora of insect life.  Good, bad and ugly have all made their appearance, and while a balance is not yet established, I hope to see it forming next year.

My focus has been on reproduction and on beneficial plants.  Beneficial used in dual form, both as companion plantings and as beneficial insect drawing plants.

What I’ve discovered by observation is that the pesky over population of flea beetles are ever so happily munching my assertively wild scattered false nettle weeds.

To my delight, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Black Swallowtail have taken up residence here and I’ve watched four separate batches of caterpillars munch their way through my dill, parsley and carrots – only to morph into their beautiful adult form and stock nectar from the Mexican Torch Sunflowers and Giant Zinnias before they take flight.

caterpillar drops

The caterpillars are zealous in their feeding habits, but leave enough of the plant for a full and speedy regrowth – a self-generating cycle of plant and food.

DSC_0292

swallowtail

New insects have shown in force:  grasshoppers, followed by soldier beetles (whose larvae feeds on caterpillar larvae); squash bugs, followed by the feather footed fly, which lays parasitic eggs on squash bugs.  Lace wings, lady bugs, katydids, parasitic wasps, syrphid flies, blue winged wasps, robber flies, damsel flies, dragon flies, spiders, beetles of all sorts and bees of all sorts all visit regularly.  It’s a happily buzzing space when the sun is shining!

The health of the garden was evidenced by the sad but stalwart four corn stalks that survived germination.  Three of the four stalks cross pollinated, to produce five ears of corn.  Our pollinators are rock stars, and they are abundant!

My next observation will be next spring – to see what grows of itself.  I am allowing ( and helping) seed for every herb and vegetable to scatter in the garden.  I’ll lightly mulch for the winter, then do a one inch deep raking of the soil in early spring.  I’m interested to see how many items survive the cold, to grow hardy starts next year.

 

Mission Accomplished – Although Not Exactly As Expected

The promised garden tour has now been published on YouTube.

I can tell you that it was a process, and we’ll leave it at that.

Without further ado:

 

 

Like a proud mama, showing off my babies.  🙂

 

How Does the Garden Grow?

Have you ever wondered how the seven year cycle works as it applies to crops?

Initially, I thought that the point was to store up and preserve as much food as you could for the upcoming year.  Accidental happenings in the garden have me thinking differently.  I wonder if we work too hard to plant, and might rather be better off leaving the plants to grow themselves.

I’ve been building a large garden, in the hopes that it will require less work, but provide benefit to insects and soil, beauty, food, natural pest control, and long term sustenance.

Perennials, heirlooms, companion plants, natural borders, and predator bug attraction are primary components.   As is a need to relax and not be constantly pulled by things needing done in the garden.

You could say that I’ve tossed aside conventional wisdom when it comes to gardening.  There are no neatly hoed rows, no tidy sections of ground in this garden.

When the plants start to bolt, I allow several to completely go to seed.  The purpose was to harvest seeds – what happened is that many plants dropped seeds, and had seeds scattered by the winds.

The result has been that there were volunteer plants galore:   cilantro, butter-crunch lettuce, Minnesota midget cantaloupe, and rattlesnake pole beans.  Yes, beans survived a hard winter and took up residence all over the garden this year.

Tiny potatoes left in the ground have produced potato plants three years now.

This year, I’m going to take this concept farther.  I’m going to let a portion of everything in the garden go to seed, then mulch over the garden in the late fall.

We’ll see what ‘grows of itself’ next spring.

Here’s a quick garden tour:

I can tell you that this garden does not produce great quantities, so far.  I’ve harvested a lot of herbs, some lettuce, minimal peas, a decent garlic crop, and walking onions.  The pole beans are now ready to start harvest – last year I harvested until September.  Dry beans have been super productive, as have the cantaloupe.  Asparagus, grapes,  raspberries and blueberries are all new plants, so they are continuing to stake their space.

That’s my Hebrew garden.

Are you growing food this summer?  Do you incorporate new ideas into your garden?  What works best for you?