I hope this works….

If you don't experiment, you don't learn.

Trial by Fire…. or Dirt

Lasagna Gardening is a cool thing.  A bit of work to get things ready, but nothing onerous and far easier than tilling and double-digging. Last summer I added 4 new veggie beds and got a real mixed bag of results at harvest time.  My DH and I had made 4 new raised beds on the south side of the house, (the older 4 beds are on the west side) and we filled them with “compost” from the local nursery.  I say “compost” because it looked and smelled nothing like the compost I have in my composter.  I just didn’t have enough to fill 4 new beds so I bought some. I got great results with tomatoes, herbs and eggplants, but the bush beans and squash did poorly…I mean, they are the easiest things to grow…but half the size of the squash plants in the west garden, what the heck?….so I blamed the “compost” which looked dark brown but had bits of bark mulch in it and was really water phobic.  and dusty. I had always distrusted it and now it had proved it’s infidelity to true dirt traditions…  Hey, it was something I could fix. Maybe.

Last fall, I saw the Lasagna Gardening book on Amazon and it looked like a good idea, so I ordered it and went to work as soon as it arrived.  I collected leaves and newspapers from neighbors. “Hey Marge! There is a crazy lady outside raking the leaves and she wants our old newspapers too.” Ah, the burdens I bear for my garden. Anyway, I bought straw and peat and found a place in Black Forest where they were giving away free goat and chicken manure. My hubby was so very patient as he hauled all this stuff around. (Bless you dear.)  Once everything was assembled I piled it on the bare dirt of all 8 veggie gardens, starting with the newspapers.  Soon I had piles between 12 and 14 inches deep.  I ran out of materials, so didn’t go the full 24 inches the author recommended. Then I let it sit for the winter.  The piles shrank a bit over time, but looked pretty much the same. I was dubious.  Would this really work?  Had I wasted time and money? Should we move, so the neighbor’s property values wouldn’t go down?

Eagerly awaiting Spring.  Five. weeks. of snow. In April and May. Started seeds inside.  Tried planting seeds outside at various times.  Just ended up killing them.

Finally, finally….the weather changed and I planted seeds again and put compost (mine) on the top of the lasagna beds. and waited some more. Today I put up a trellis for the pole beans and planted cabbage and brussels sprouts seedlings.  The straw topping in the west beds was covering wonderfully rich dirt the lasagna method had produced over the winter. It smelled good and was a lovely color.  The straw topping in the south beds was mostly covering straw and and leaves and I had to carve little holes in it.  I filled the holes up with compost and then planted the cabbage and brussels sprouts seedlings.  I wonder why the difference between the two areas.  I know they will grow, but I wonder why the south-facing beds were not as decomposed as the west-facing beds. Curious.

I tried to treat them the same way,but I am notoriously fickle and I think I watered the west garden more than the south one. I know I put pretty much the same amount of things on each bed.  Maybe the fact that they were newer beds meant they didn’t have the same amount of glorious earthworm action as the older gardens????

Anyway, the upshot is the Lasagna Method of Gardening works pretty well so far. I hope I will get a far better harvest this year even with the strict water rationing.  The straw and leaves alone will keep moisture in the soil better, so I won’t have to water as frequently.  Assuming I get the drip lines in soon…..

Stay Tuned for more….  ADVENTURES    IN    GARDENING…Gardening…gardening.  Same bat-time, same bat-channel.

 

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Gardening in the snow

I live in zone 5.  For the first time I planted the spinach and peas outside before the frost date of May 15. I planted them three weeks ago.  Since then we have had three snowstorms, with night-time temps into the teens…..and wind, don’t forget the high winds that have been around. My garlic is still alive.  I credit the straw and leaf mulch that engulfs them. I don’t know if my spinach will survive, as I just threw the seeds on top of the mulch, then sprinkled a bit of dirt over the top.  I’ve been watching with curiosity. Maybe I should put some more dirt down…maybe they have blown away….I can’t tell.

I started the toms, (Black Plum Cherries, Mortgage Lifter Beefsteak and ground cherry (tomato-like plants)) inside and they are all doing well.  The ground cherries are a little slow.  I don’t know if this is normal as this is the first time I’ve planted them.  I had a scare this weekend.  I accidentally spilled the toms all over my kitchen floor.  The black plastic pot holder got caught on the sliding glass door and flipped over!  All 14 of my toms did a face-plant.  All I could see were mounds of dirt. I extracted them from the ruins and re-planted them, except now I have no way of knowing which plants are which as the little name plates got separated from the plants…..I guess I will have to plant all of them.  I tell you, it was a scary moment, my heart leapt into my throat…it was almost as bad as seeing one of my kids fall down.  I’m happy to report that they survived the fall and are doing well.

I also have leeks growing in my window. I planted parsnips, eggplant and peppers last week and so far nothing has shown.  I have had poor luck with parsnips, I love them, but out of the 18 I planted last year, only one grew, so I decided to start them indoors this year.  We shall see what happens.

This Saturday, our local Whole Foods is having a “Compost Dump”.  A big truck will pull up into the parking lot and dump a bunch of compost there.  It will be free.  I intend to be there early.  I have compost, but I suspect this will be better than mine…..:) I want to use it on top of my lasagna beds that seem to be nothing but straw. That way I will have a base for the seeds.

An interesting spring so far. We shall see what new things it brings.

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