2011 Season

Fall Plantings: Garlic & Jerusalem Artichokes

 
This year, we've been granted permission to leave the garden in place over winter. So, our first garlic has been planted! We chose a stiff-neck  variety (Purple Glazer) and planted the largest cloves 6" apart in two 12" rows down the center of the 6' x 9' bed. The smaller cloves were planted somewhat closer together in a third row, which we plan to harvest as garlic scallions next spring.
 
In addition, the garden's year-round status allowed us to plant our first perennial vegetable: Jerusalem Artichokes (or Sunchokes). Cultivated by Native Americans, this species of sunflower is prized for its sweet, nutty tubers and decorative flowers. Jerusalem Artichokes are a good source of potassium and iron, and are also more suitable for diabetics than potatoes because their carbohydrate is in the form of inulin.

Videos from the summer

I've been remiss in posting several brief videos I took this summer of animal activity in the garden. The first two are of the tremendous activity bees have kept up on the fennel plant. It probably won't translate well, but when I see these, I think of scenes from Bladerunner or Star Wars, in which huge vertical structures accept vehicle docking at multiple levels.

The third one is pretty hard to watch, entirely attributable to poor photography. It is a view of the compost pile, freshly turned by compost captain Stephen Lee.

 

Visitors, human and caterpillar

I opened the garden for a couple of hours in the afternoon and quite a few families came through.

Three Chinese-American boys became quite attached, staying over half an hour and wanting to eat various veggies. I gave them a few cherry tomatoes, and even a tomatillo. The older boy wanted to take home seeds and plant. Wait until spring I suggested. He may come Saturday, when I said we'd be there.

His father came by, not speaking English (Jerry is in the 4th grade at Brackett and is fluent). He found a caterpillar in the carrots.

Visitors, potential comrades in the field

I opened the garden for an hour, and welcomed one mother with daughter, and another parent and child too. She might be interested next year as she can't garden at her place (too many trees), but she declared herself a novice. I told her we are all learners, and we have some very good teachers!

I sat on a pail and tried to draw the Brussels sprouts. Such plants! The leaf veins really resemble rivers on maps, with smaller branches and brooks flowing in. I tried to count all the sprouts on one plant. There must be around 60, counting all the very little ones and too-big ones. Perhaps 40 to divide now, probably more as time ripens.

Transitioning to Autumn

 

Late September marks a transition to Autumn in the garden. We've recently planted several plots in cover crops: Beets, Soy Beans, Onions, Potatoes and the Three Sisters (Corn, early Pole Beans & Pumpkins). 

Some crops are showing signs of slowing down: Bush Beans, Broccoli, Cucumbers, Eggplants, Peppers, Summer and Winter Squashes, Tomatoes and Watermelons.

Other crops are still at peak: Pole Beans, many of the Greens, Okra & Tomatillos. And a few crops will be peaking later this Fall: Brussels Sprouts, late-season Cabbage, Carrots, Kale, Leeks, late-season Lettuce, Parsnips, Radishes & Spinach.

The plants are all right

We're looking pretty good after the great storm. I set right one climbing bean in the Three Sisters bed, and tried to straighten up a more-or-less fallen brussell sprout plant; it needs a stake. One of the people I gave tours to had never seen one. She had never seen a Kohlrabi either!

I opened the garden for an hour-plus, and we had several waves of parents and kids come through, some with grandparents in tow.

I gave one grandmother some basil sprigs, which she much appreciated.

In the photo, you can see this baby girl was transfixed with the hot pepper plant. I myself was attracted and tried to draw it last time, today bringing my color pencils. Not up to the real thing of course. Too bad we (speaking for myself and probably the baby) don't care for the taste of hot peppers!

Crowded garden

I opened the garden this afternoon for about an hour.

First I gave a tour to my neighbor and her daughter, who were walking their large but sweet dog.

Then I went and invited the people at the playground to come see the garden. They didn't come for a while so I sat and tried to draw the Thai Dragon peppers, but I need a color pencil to fill in! So many — perhaps we should give a few away!

Then all these families came, a number of grandmothers/mothers and children, and at one point there must have been 10 children and almost as many adults roaming the garden!

I carried on lots of conversations, telling the kids how flowers turned to fruits, etc. The eggplant! I explained the Three Sisters bed.  I talked about the squash borers and the hornworms. I showed our new plantings — the spinach seedlings were showing just a little green! I untied the cauliflower to show them, and pointed out the mini cabbages.

One boy had a few cherry tomatoes. One little girl wanted a glass of water so I poured same with the hose, and then sprayed her and her brother and her mother and her grandmother, a retired California school principal in the very town my wife's brother lives (Richmond)!

The little girl and the boy liked the spray, mother too (it was hot). OK, I didn't really spray the grandmother.

One boy was quite impressed with all our basil.

Willy Freed!

Introducing Willy, the Philosopher's Stone, freed at last

Willy, the Philosopher's Stone

Willy breeches...

Willy breeches...

Willy, freed...

Willy freed

Willy is a huge chunk of granite that surfaced in bed #1. The obsessive-compulsive gardeners wouldn't leave it be to stifle anyone's roots, so spent half the day digging and levering it out of the hole, moving it to a place of honor where it will provide a comfortable place of rest for the weary philosopher-gardener.

 
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Season 2011 - Opening Day!

April 9 was opening day for the 2011 season. (Opening was scheduled for April 2, but we got fooled by the April 1 snow.) We measured out the enlarged garden, planted 11 fence posts, and staked out the main paths through the center. Next week we plan to put up the fence, rototill, and start playing in the dirt...if it doesn't snow again.

Misrak digging a fence post holeLaying out a path

 
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