2022 Garden Thread

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EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
You do so much work on your garden! I’m jealous!

I’m up to about 1/3rd planted. I’m getting there slowly.

The pie is gone. As a new superfood, I ate it for lunch too.

We’re cooking up some Good King Henry tonight for the 1st time. The raw leaf tastes like spinach at first, but has a bit of an after taste that’s bitter. Maybe like gay lan, I bet I spelled that wrong. It’s been growing for a few years. Hopefully it’ll become a favorite. Supposedly it gets more bitter as the season progresses, so maybe I need to start earlier.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,310
Texas
@EatenByLimestone , we have pie for breakfast on occasion. We don’t have pie often, but when I do make a pie or cheesecake or crisp dessert, we cut it into twelve servings. We have a family of six, so everybody gets one piece for dessert, and then we save the rest for breakfast the next morning. It would be a rare event for any to be leftover long enough for lunch. Especially something like pumpkin pie or goat cheese cake that has lots of eggs, I consider an excellent breakfast food. Rhubarb would go in that category, too, because of the fiber.

I had to do an emergency watering on one of my rhubarb plants this evening. I think it gets more shade than the other plant, but some of the really hot afternoon sun gets to it when the sun has moved down the horizon. It was wilted tonight even after the sun was off of it, and I could see burned spots on the leaves. I hope it can hold on until we cool down to the eighties next week. I’m not sure that I can even grow perennial rhubarb down here, but I’m giving it a try. If it fails, I’ll just grow it as an annual from now on.

@Dan Freeman, your food forest is really looking great. I’ll look forward to seeing more pictures when your pergola is covered in vines, and your flowers are blooming.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I wonder if it would do better if it was planted behind something that would give it shade? Maybe tomatoes? A trellis of pole beans?
 
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Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
Do you hugel?

I have a bunch of 3- and 4-foot logs from when I cut down the 4 poplar trees that were in the field where we are making the food forest. I piled them on the edge of the property, and I need to move them, so I decided to create a hugel mound which I will start using next year to plant strawberries, and maybe other things as well.

If you are not familiar, Hugelkultur (German), pronounced Hoo-gul-culture, means hill culture or hill mound. They are no-dig raised beds with a difference. They hold moisture, build fertility, maximize surface volume and are great spaces for growing fruit, vegetables and herbs.

It is a mound of logs, branches, leaves, grass clippings, manure, compost or whatever other biomass you have available and topped with soil.

Here is an article if you want to read further: https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur

While you can use all kinds of materials to build a hugel mound, here is a cross-section picture of one using mainly logs.

2021-04-20-p-crimmins-philadelphia-woodmere-museum-hugel-mounds-installation-cross-section.jpg
I don't think I will go that big, just a few feet tall and much narrower so I can easily reach everything without having to build a scaffold. LOL. Maybe 6-8' long, 3 or 4' wide, and 3-4' high.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,256
South Puget Sound, WA
I tried hugelkultur in a bed but wasn't impressed. There was no improvement in that bed. After 3 yrs. I dug up the wood. It had not started to decay much. Perhaps it would be better to use something like alder that breaks down more quickly. I have a friend that loves to compost and is doing a long-term hugel experiment. She started it 2 yrs ago. I will wait and see her results. She is constantly experimenting with making compost with all sorts of methods.
 
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Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
I tried hugelkultur in a bed but wasn't impressed. There was no improvement in that bed. After 3 yrs. I dug up the wood. It had not started to decay much. Perhaps it would be better to use something like alder that breaks down more quickly. I have a friend that loves to compost and is doing a long-term hugel experiment. She started it 2 yrs ago. I will wait and see her results. She is constantly experimenting with making compost with all sorts of methods.

Then you must have been doing something wrong or didn't give it enough of a chance if you weren't impressed. You should check out the PERMIES online forum. (https://permies.com/forums) You can learn a lot about permaculture in that forum, one topic being hugelkultur. Paul Wheaton, the owner of the forum, is one of the foremost permaculture experts in the United States. He lectures all over and has written books and made many videos. I have learned so much from that forum. It takes "gardening" to a whole different level. Not gardening like most people think, the year-in, year-out garden, but long-term, sustainable food growth.
 
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Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
Today, I got the 4 - 3 x 6 raised beds from the backyard converted into 6 - 3 x 3 raised beds and put them down in the food forest. I had to "sacrifice" one of the beds to make sides for the other 3 when I cut them in half. I want to fill them with pollinators and Yellow Fern Yarrow since the latter attracts lacewings which are carnivorous insects that eat a lot of the insects that will feed on fruit plants.

Before (the "sacrificed" one is leaning against the shed)
3FD273DE-CFE3-4E25-9EA5-CF79C6A0D694.jpg

After (I had already moved one down to the FF before I took this pic)
C8A5FD93-B3BD-4143-BAA4-429FDEF77282.jpg
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,256
South Puget Sound, WA
Then you must have been doing something wrong or didn't give it enough of a chance if you weren't impressed. You should check out the PERMIES online forum. (https://permies.com/forums) You can learn a lot about permaculture in that forum, one topic being hugelkultur. Paul Wheaton, the owner of the forum, is one of the foremost permaculture experts in the United States. He lectures all over and has written books and made many videos. I have learned so much from that forum. It takes "gardening" to a whole different level. Not gardening like most people think, the year-in, year-out garden, but long-term, sustainable food growth.
I think the issue may be that this process is not appropriate for raised beds that are isolated from ground soil. There probably were not the microorganisms and mycorrhiza needed to make it work. Our raised blueberry bed which is covered with wood chips on the other hand sprouts mushrooms annually. This year, the ex-hugel bed got amended with llama poo. It appears to be doing better, at least with the lettuce and peas planted there.
 

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
I think the issue may be that this process is not appropriate for raised beds that are isolated from ground soil. There probably were not the microorganisms and mycorrhiza needed to make it work. Our raised blueberry bed which is covered with wood chips on the other hand sprouts mushrooms annually. This year, the ex-hugel bed got amended with llama poo. It appears to be doing better, at least with the lettuce and peas planted there.

Oh, I agree with you! If you are isolated from ground soil, you would definitely not benefit from hugel mounds. Not only the microorganisms and mycorrhizal fungi, but the wicking effect from the ground moisture which helps to break down any logs, branches, etc. used in the hugel mound much faster by increasing all these friendly organisms and fungi.

When making hugel mounds, a lot of folks will actually dig a pit area first, cut the biggest logs and stand them on end (vertically rather than horizontally) to assist in the wicking of moisture to the rest of the mound. This speeds up the decomposition and nutrient release.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,310
Texas
I do take what I call a “mini-hugelkultur” approach to my raised beds and even to my pots. When we moved in here, we discovered that the next door neighbors had cut and piled a bunch of wood under trees and once upon a time covered with a tarp. It was actually our wood on our land (but the neighbors had an arrangement with the previous owners where they used it). It was pretty rotten, so every time we add a garden bed, we go over to that strip of land and gather rotten wood and soil from underneath the trees there. The only problem with that approach is that there are tiny fragments of tarp all mixed in, so we’re constantly pulling those out.

3257BE52-4A0C-47B7-AF53-597D6E10C3E9.jpeg

Here’s a shot of part of our process last summer when we got the raised beds from the new neighbors. We had lots of dead oleander and palm fronds after the major freeze. We started with oleander branches, weighed those down with rotten wood and soil, then added in shredded palm fronds. We covered that with half finished compost from our tumblers and then whatever nitrogen we could get. We had some grass clippings, but we also pulled up pokeweed and other large weeds and shredded corn stalks to add. Only after that did we finish off with purchased compost. We grew sunn hemp and cowpeas last summer as a green manure, but we’ll need to add more purchased compost this spring after we harvest the onions.

I’ve had a raccoon or something getting into my garden this week. My neighbors are busy trapping armadillos with the traps we often borrow, so I went out and bought my own set of traps to see if I can catch it. This morning the digging was pretty widespread and had torn up a bunch of my potatoes. We think it’s a coon because it must be climbing to get in the garden, and there is digging in pots and planters where armadillos couldn’t climb.

0E8CFF5E-F6BD-4CCF-9C48-B1B051D17505.jpeg

Here’s what I found dug up this morning.

My husband just got home from the store with marshmallows. I need to head outside to set the traps.
 

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
Great idea with those raised beds!

Sorry to hear about the marauding coon. The neighbor who lived next door when we first bought our house 27 years ago used to feed all the wildlife. One of the things she used to put out for the raccoons was marshmallows. They loved them! They have a real sweet tooth.
 
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Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
Every Saturday morning, I get an email from Joe Lampl' (Joe Gardener) with his latest article and podcast, usually featuring a guest. This week's is all about native bees. I found it quite interesting, so I thought I would share it here:

One thing I learned right off the bat is that honeybees are not native to North America, (I never knew that) and there are about 4000 native bee species in the United States.

All About Native Bees, with Heather Holm
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,256
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes, they are a domesticated species. I learned that a couple of decades ago from a local orchardist. I was keeping honey bees at the time. He was part native Nisqually Indian and told me that when he stopped keeping bees he noticed after a year that there were no issues with the pollination of his hundreds of trees. He observed many native bees replacing them. After that, he refused to keep bees. I think there are over 20,000 native bee species globally, plus many flies and some birds that also act as pollinators.

Unfortunately, the majority of domesticated bees are used for pollination in areas of heavy herbicides and pesticide usage. The poor things are brought in to pollinate between spraying when the plants are in flower. Then they get packed up and moved to the next site. These orchards and fields are insect deserts. And in turn, nothing else in the wild food chain exists there either. When they talk about the die-off of bees, it's a man-made problem.
 

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
I went outside to work, and it was just so hot and humid, I decided to take it easier today. So, I built a bee hotel and mounted it down in the food forest.

42032EBA-45AC-4893-ACA9-82232C1FD0F5.jpg F847DD6B-42D6-456E-8980-7D8E70046621.jpg

It's amazing, this little hotel took 18.5 - 7' bamboo poles cut into 7.25" pieces. That is more than one the 7' x 7' trellises I built for the pergola! There are @200 bamboo tubes in this bee hotel.

Spent the rest of the early afternoon cleaning 120 - 3.5 nursery pots which are now put away for next Spring.

Tomorrow, I plan to do one of the jobs I hate most...cleaning the raised pond filter. (You can see the raised pond in the first pic above.) I only do it once a year. It is disgusting to do.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,256
South Puget Sound, WA
That's a spiffy bee hotel. Ours is more utilitarian. We raise mason bees for a local beekeeper. Our gals are almost done now. They've been very busy. By mid-June they usually die off. In your bee hotel you may see leaf-cutter bees filling it with cocoons in the summer. Be sure to keep some wetted clay soil nearby for them to use for sealing in the cocoons.

IMG_2504.jpg IMG_2503.jpg
 

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
That's a spiffy bee hotel. Ours is more utilitarian. We raise mason bees for a local beekeeper. Our gals are almost done now. They've been very busy. By mid-June they usually die off. In your bee hotel you may see leaf-cutter bees filling it with cocoons in the summer. Be sure to keep some wetted clay soil nearby for them to use for sealing in the cocoons.

View attachment 295674 View attachment 295677
Wish I had built it earlier. I'm probably late to the game with it for this year.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
93,256
South Puget Sound, WA
Mason bees have a short season. They are active as soon as daytime temps are over 50º. Keep an eye on it this summer. You may see leafcutter bees filling some of the smaller tubes. One thing to consider is adding a small porch at the bottom. As young bees emerge, they often will hang out on the porch as they warm up in the morning sun. Also, the front should face south for best sun exposure.
 

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
Well, I got the pond filter cleaned today. It took me about 2 hours. I can't figure out what activity I like less: cleaning the pond filter; getting root canal; or prepping for a colonoscopy!

Up potted my Tiny Tims to their terminal 9" pots. Have tomatoes on every one of them already. I also saw tomatoes on my Early Treats and Early Girls today. My Shishito Peppers are setting blooms. Can't wait. They are my favorite peppers.
 
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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,310
Texas
We love Shishito peppers here, too. Ours have been in the garden for a while now, and I’m excited that I have little peppers growing on them despite the crazy heat we’ve been having. Thankfully this week will be cooler.

We had the possibility of strong storms last night. Unfortunately the rain missed us despite a couple hours of very nearby thunder and lightning. We still have more chances for the next couple of days, though, and the front blew in some much cooler weather. Highs are supposed to be in the low eighties, average for this time of year, instead of temperatures fifteen to twenty degrees above average. It was positively delightful to be outside early this morning, and I opened up the house and used a window exhaust fan to help get rid of the heat in here.

We took the opportunity yesterday morning to harvest our Texas Legend onions. There were a number of small ones and not really any huge ones, but they taste good and we have more onions to come in three more beds. These rickety sawhorses were on the property when we moved here, and they won’t hold up heavy loads, but they made a great support for curing onions. This is under a lean-to of sorts on our barn, so it’s sheltered from the sun but gets good airflow.

32CCE0DD-7D02-49A4-9545-E8CE1879C486.jpeg
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
1,310
Texas
FAD0C836-B69B-4BA6-B096-27763D1AC234.jpeg

We had our first tomato harvest yesterday, and we had a taste test of the five ripest ones today while I was making our salad for lunch. Yummy! These are all small tomatoes from Artisan Seeds. The largest was a new one for us, Taste Patio. It was only about an ounce and a half, but my two plants are loaded with lovely, mostly oval fruit. The elongated cherries are Maglia Rosa, and the round cherries were supposed to be Madera, a brownish red sweet hybrid with green shoulders, according to what I thought I seeded and transplanted, but they are not. I’m not sure what they are, perhaps Sunrise Bumblebee, though they didn’t start out as yellow as I would have expected for that. Whatever they are, they were tasty, so that’s good news. Madera is a hybrid we tried for the first time last year, and we liked it better than Sweet Million (though it did crack a bit more), so I’m going to have to see if I can root a sucker off my other plant in order to have more this season.

I don’t have any edible lettuce in the garden unfortunately, but my cucumbers are beginning to flower well. I may even have seen one swelling fruit earlier today. I have some peppers setting as well, so I hope we’ll be enjoying more fresh vegetables soon.

Roasted new potatoes that were harvested because of the garden digger are just finishing up in the oven now.
 

Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
Today, I thinned the Detroit Red Beets and the American Purple Top Turnips. Got all the suckers removed from my tomatoes and supported them up another level. Lots of small tomatoes already. I planted more green onion seeds (scallions) in the tomato beds and put in a bunch of dill seeds. The afternoon was "tall grass" cutting in the back of the field behind the food forest. I have a bunch of white pines and barberry bushes that have sprung up in this area over the past few years. I am going to have to do another "cleaning" of that area this summer.
 
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Dan Freeman

Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2021
399
NE PA
rumble.com
Barberry is a miserable plant. I hate having to work around them.
It seems that any area on my property I clear, barberry bushes just pop up. I am always cutting them down and taking them out. I try to get small ones I see with the lawn mower, but they grow so fast.
 
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EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I’d be real tempted to have a spray bottle of 2-4, D with me if it’s that bad. That’s one of the last plants I’d want to get out of control. Something that gives phytophoto dermatitis would be worse.
 
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