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Garden Update #9: Wrapping Up

Posted by kevinwolz on August 16, 2010

As my summer nears its end, I’ve spent  some time this past week tidying up the garden and preparing it for my departure and my parents’ ensuing reign. They will provide what little care the garden needs in my absence, as well as harvest whatever is ready. Thanks to them in advance! I will also probably make a trek back up later in fall once a major harvest is needed. A bunch of random things have happened in the process of wrapping things up in the garden:

  • I finally got around to staking the tomato and pepper plants. This should have been done quite a while ago. I couldn’t bring myself to buying the relatively expensive tomato cages, so I just searched through our garage (which kind of resembles the Room of Requirement, for all you Harry Potter fans) and found a bunch of random stakes to use instead. The tomatoes should be happier now that they are just starting to produce fruit, and the peppers won’t lie horizontal due to the massive amount of fruit on them.
  • The sunberries have begun to ripen en masse! My friend Katie helped me out by harvesting over 1.5 pounds of berries (Thanks Katie!). I’m freezing them for now and will probably make a pie with them sometime this winter.
  • My six strawberry plants that I planted early this summer produced maybe two strawberries (typical while they get themselves established), but now they have entered massive reproduction mode. Strawberries reproduce primarily by sending out stolons or “runners,” which you can basically visualize as mini umbilical cords. Stolons extended about a foot away from the “mother plant” and end in a “daughter plant.” The daughter has several leaves and typically proceeds to root into the soil below. My dilemma: my strawberries are planted in our rock landscaping. Solution: get a bunch of small plant pots full of soil and place them underneath all the daughter plants. Once the daughters root, I will cut the stolons and transplant the new plants wherever I so choose.

  • The Earth Box experiment has really taken off. The plants are growing quite nicely, and there is a DEFINITE difference noticeable between the experimental groups. The box without any castings (worm poop) is in a clear last place. The box with 4 layers of castings definitely has the largest and healthiest-looking plants, with the 2-layer box in a close second. It will be interesting to see how the yields are affected and if the difference between the two leading boxes becomes more exaggerated as time goes on. Science=cool.
  • Sadly, my entire corn yield has failed: invasive Japanese beetles did some very interesting and particular damage to my crop. I’m sure most people can recognize the “silks” and the “tassels” on a stalk of corn. To quickly summarize corn sex (those who have taken garden tours this summer know how much I love talking about plant sex), the (male) tassels release the pollen that lands on the ends of each (female) silk. The pollen proceeds to travel through the silks–each of which is connected to a single kernel of corn–in order to fertilize the embryo, which develops into the familiar kernels. Unfortunately, when Japanese beetles selectively eat all the silks on all your corn, the pollen is never allowed to reach the embryo and the kernels never form. Consequently, I have plenty of large cobs but no kernels to those cobs. So why was I hit so harshly by those buggers? After all, I’ve eaten plenty of organically grown sweet corn that was as full and beautiful as can be. Well, after talking to my intelligent friends, two primary reasons have surfaced. 1) Japanese beetles reproduce in sod, of which there is tons around my garden. 2) Quite simply, there’s not much around to eat except grass and my garden, and clearly grass isn’t the tastiest thing to them. No worries, however, for the beauty of POLYCULTURE has saved my spirits.
  • Spuds are here! This isn’t exactly an update about my garden, but over the weekend my friend Katie and I harvested about 50 pounds (we were on a roll) of rather large Purple Viking Potatoes grown by One Straw himself. This was my first endeavor into this Irish pastime, and it was actually a bit easier than I expected. Rather than having to excavate large quantities of soil in search of the tubers, the method involved only a pitch fork and “grubbing around like a badger.” I would stick the fork into the soil about a foot away from each potato plant and “lift” the soil. Most of the spuds were pretty close to the surface and would actually just pop out of the ground at this point. Then Katie would do the badger thing and complete the harvest. Now, the only question is: mashed or baked?

American Gothic. Yes, my shirt is completely soaked through. I don't know how the Irish did it in heat like this.


3 Responses to “Garden Update #9: Wrapping Up”

  1. Roger said

    Kevin, thanks for sharing your garden with us this summer. And thanks for sharing all that you have learned, the people you have met, and even some failures, it’s all part of this wonderful adventure called life. Stay in touch. Deb Petro workday and picnic is Sept.12, 1pm at McClaughry, join us if you can. Rog

  2. Victoria Johnson said

    It’s been said that you are never too old to learn, and you made a believer out of me!

    I have learned SO much about gardening thru your blogs this summer — thank you! I stil think you should publicize your Journal of this Summer’s activities! I’ll be one of the first to purchase a copy –even at MY age!!

  3. Amber said

    I knew you went on this trip but i never really heard the details of how it went, but it sounds fantastic. I love the picture by the way.

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