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Garden Update #8: Returning to a Jungle

Posted by kevinwolz on August 6, 2010

I’m starting to think that my plants grow faster when I’m not around to watch them–like some sort of conspiracy they have goin on– because when I returned to my garden (after almost two weeks), everything was huge! So long 100 lb goal, hello 300(?) lb goal!

More exciting than any particular crop is the shear biomass that the garden has accumulated in the last few weeks. Photosynthesis is AWESOME! Before I left, much of the soil in the garden was still clearly visible through and around the crops (partly because of hail setbacks, but mostly due to my lack of experience in plant spacing and thinning). Now, everything (including most of the paths) is covered! Sure, plants need their space, but visible soil is inefficient and actually unsustainable for several reasons: 1) Direct sunlight increases the evaporation rate of soil moisture, therefore increasing water demand by the garden. 2) Rainfall not slowed by foliage or mulch increases erosion as it hits the soil with more force. 3) Most importantly, that’s soil I could be using! Unused soil means there’s a niche to be filled and sunlight to be used. Maximum efficiency in capturing sunlight translates into maximum yields from the garden. In the future, my new knowledge should increase this efficiency earlier on in the season.

  • BIGGEST NEWS: I ate a pumpkin from the garden!!! I know, a pumpkin in August is ridiculous, but it was orange and had a small hole that was beginning to rot…so basically, I saved it! SO good! There are plenty more–orange and green–on the vines, along with plenty of flowers still gettin it on. Can’t wait for more this fall!
  • A few of the sunflowers have finally bloomed. Hopefully a few of the other varieties will soon follow.
  • Cucumbers galore! Nuf said.
  • My first nasturtium flower has finally bloomed! It’s hard to pick the only flower, so I hope more come soon for some enjoyable tanginess.
  • I clearly underestimated the size of Sunberry plants…the problem is, there’s so little information on them anywhere! They are now massive bushes, crowding out my peppers, and collectively have clear over 1000 berries on them. They’re still not that tasty raw, but a pie is on the menu as soon as a get enough ripe.
  • The potato plants in the buckets are beginning to yellow. Once they completely die back, I will flip those babies over and see how they did.
  • The “rock gardens” on the side of the house have turned into a massive cucurbit jungle. All those viney plants are just overlapping and intermingling like they’re best friends. Along with the masses of cucumbers, I have two each of watermelon, butternut squash, and acorn squash on the vines! No quite sure how to tell when these are ready…
  • The corn has skyrocketed in the past few weeks. The variety is “Bantam Improved,” and I thought bantam implied small when I first got the seeds. Clearly not.
  • The tree house pole beans have really taken to their extended “poles,” and some have already broken 10 feet. The pole beans in the three sisters plot are farther behind and should hopefully begin producing in the next week or so.
  • My eggplants have fruit! Each of the five plants has at least one fruit, and they all look healthy. They’re small, but with continued heat and plenty of water they should size up pretty quickly.
  • The Earth Boxes have grown like crazy, especially the beans. I’m definitely going to need to get those guys climbing a pole really soon…although they’ll be harder to transport home with 6′ poles sticking out. I haven’t taken any measurements yet, but I haven’t seen any obvious visual distinctions between the experimental boxes. Time will tell.

Check out the pictures of everything I found upon my return.

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4 Responses to “Garden Update #8: Returning to a Jungle”

  1. Joan said

    Did you make a pie with the pumpkin?
    What is the white veggie in your picture. New to me. Are those RED carrots? Never heard of sunberries, either. How about blueberries next year?
    Your veggies all look so HEALTHY!
    Good for you Kevin.

    • kwolz said

      I didn’t make a pie with the pumpkin bc it was too small. The whitish/green things are kohlrabi (and very big ones at that). The carrots are Purple Dragon Carrots, and blueberries are much harder to grow, but we’ll see.

  2. Joan said

    I thought there was only one picture! Then I was told no, there are many, many so I went back to your blog and duh! there were all the other pictures. Your garden is magnificent!!! Congratulations on a job well done.
    Kohlrabi, Hmmmmm! Wonder what it tastes like.
    I don’t think I’ve ever had eggplant,
    either. Your pumpkins and watermelon look amazing.
    I bet you hate to leave your garden behind while you head for Urbana.

  3. Great garden! I hope that the your nasturtium will bloom more flowers. Your plants are really healthy and yummy in the pictures. The pumpkins are really delicious. You should make some soup out of it because that’s my favorite. Lol. The watermelon is amazing too.

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