Transformational Gardening

June 2009 Garden Experiences

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June 4, 2009

As it turns out, I am very, very allergic to straw and hay. The last week was a foggy-brained, watery-eyed sneeze-fest! My hope is that when it rains on the straw, it won't bother me so much.

Below are two pictures: 1) "Baldy"; 2) "Baldy with a Straw Hat"

It may seem like the straw is far too thick, but Ruth Stout pointed out that eight inch thick straw will compress down to two inch thick straw after rains and walking on it. Not enough gardeners were around to hear my unusual gardening jokes. I wanted to tell my neighboring gardeners that "I could bring my horses in to graze on the hay and the vegetable tops in other plots."

Now all I have to do is measure out the rows and, according to the Ruth Stout Method, rake aside some straw to plant the crops!

June 7, 2009

I measured out 18 inches on each edge of the garden for walking (according to community garden rules) and then staked out 24 rows (two feet apart) and put twine from the stakes across each row. Then it was off to all of the gardening stores to look for organic seeds and seedlings. Almost everyone else had planted weeks ago and at this point I had no plan as to what to plant. So, I just started buying whatever organic seeds and seedlings I could find ... without any rhyme or reason. I kept telling myself and one fellow gardener that "if I don't get the crops in the ground soon, the city won't have food for the Winter!"

Oh No!!! I made a big mistake. It was nearly impossible to "rake aside" the eight inch thick straw to plant the rows! And when I could finally push apart the straw to create a row, pushing the straw apart in the next row tended to close up the first row! The rain had not come and the straw was still very thick even after walking on it.

So far, I have learned the following:

  1. Plan the garden in the Winter or Spring so that you can decide what to plant and include some Spring, Summer and Fall vegetables to have food throughout the season.
  2. Order seeds early.
  3. Do not put on eight inches thick of dried straw or hay before planting. Better to put it on a couple of inches thick before a rain. After the first year, I think the hay and leaf mulch left on throughout the Winter (to feed and break up the soil) will suffice. After the plants become little seedlings, then add more mulch.
  4. Put the straw or hay with stalks parallel to the rows (as much as possible) to make it easy to create a row.

June 14, 2009

23 out of 24 rows have been planted!!! Click on the Garden key to the right to see the crops that have been planted.

I planted the Radishes (Rudolf & French Breakfast) in Row 23 using the Anastasia Planting Method. I wanted to do all of the rows that way, but was so involved in my straw allergy attacks that I forget. Basically, the idea behind the planting method is to grow plants that have healing properties specific to exactly what your body needs to heal.

Below is an except from “Anastasia” by Vladamir Megre:

There will be more information posted in a separate informational web page about Anastasia.

The Anastasia Planting Method is pretty straight forward. She recommends that only a few of each type of plant in the garden be done this way. I did encounter one problem. I tried putting half a row's worth of seeds in my mouth for nine minutes. When I spit them out into my cupped hands they overflowed the cupped hands onto the ground. This happened twice even though I was ready for it the second time. Better to do fewer seeds and remove one-by-one or spit them out into a cup first.

Somehow I expect that the above discussion is not the typical gardening discussion!

June 21, 2009

We have been getting plenty of rain the last week and I think the garden needed it. About half of the rows are doing well, but many of the rows have tiny sprouts that do not seem to be getting any bigger (carrots, for example). Hmmm. I wonder why?!

Pictures from the garden:

Daikon Radish (Row 1) Turnips (Row 2) Kale (Row 6)

Red Winter Kale (Row 8r) Mustard Greens (Row 17) Honeydew (Row 21r): Eaten by Insects

Radish (Rudolf) (Row 23r)    

Radishes grow amazingly fast, especially daikon and Rudolf. Mustard green are coming up very fast as well. Watermelon seedlings are not growing much.

June 23, 2009

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are they weeds or something I've planted? I have no clue. To the right is a picture of a bunch of things in Row 4: Carrots. I think the big thing in the center might be a carrot plant, but it may be a weed. Ruth Stout suggested few weeds will come up because of the hay/straw and to just throw some hay on top of the weeds that do come up. But she's making the mistake that her readers (especially me!) know how to tell the difference between a carrot and a weed!
In Row 3: Beets, I think the plant on the right with the purple-tinged leaves might be a beet? But that big plant to the left looks eerily similar to what I thought was a carrot in the last picture. Did the carrot wander over to Row 3? Clearly, the carrots, beets and weeds are all conspiring to confuse me!
Ah, now this row is a breathe of fresh air. Those burgundy plants on the right side of Row 11 are almost certainly the Amaranth (Burgundy) that I planted. My discovery: The key to gardening is to not grow any green plants!
These kale seelings are developing leaves with big white splotches on them. That's interesting! Maybe the splotches will turn green as the kale matures.

June 26, 2009

I've met many wonderful people at the community garden. Unfortunately, I didn't take the time to learn their names ... yet. A few days ago I met Shanti and her son who has the garden plot a few plots to the right of mine and next to the road. Her plot is doing really well and she seems to have gotten an early start. Today, I met Mary who has a plot near the trees. It has a fence made of branches and a beehive. She said that they had to get special permission to have the beehive. Like me, she is also having little success with cucumbers and zuchinni.

Well, things are really hopping and popping upwards in the garden today! What a pleasant surprise! I worked together with another gardener to identify the carrots in Row 4. I can now tell the difference between a carrot plant and a weed that looks a little like a carrot plant. There are some difficulties though. All of the three rows that I planted with Pagano brand seeds (an Italian company) seem to be doing almost no growing (unless you count weeds). I have to check and see if "Pagano" in Italian means "dead seed."

The two tables below contain pictures from each row as detailed in the 2009 Garden Key. The first table are the rows that are doing well. The second table are the one's I'm having some difficulty with.

Table 1: Rows Doing Well

Radish (Daikon) (Row 1) Turnips (Row 2) Beets (Row 3): Not coming up in the whole row. Carrots (Row 4): Little, snowflake-like leaves are carrots. Big plants in picture are weeds Tomatos Plants (Row 5-r)

Kale Seedlings (Row 5-l) Kale Seedlings (Row 6) Kale (Red Winter) (Row 7-l) Kale (Red Winter) Seedlings (Row 8-r) Cauliflower Seedlings (Row 8-l)

Amaranth (Burgundy) (Row 11-r) Mustard Greens (Red Giant) (Row 14-r) Coriander/Cilantro (Row 14-l) Leaf Lettuce (Black Seeded Simpson) (Row 16) Mustard (Southern Giant Curled) (Row 17)

Radish (Rudolf) (Row 23-r Radish (French Breakfast) (Row 23-l)

Table 2: Rows Doing Poorly

Kale (Dinosaur) (Row 7-r): Growing very slowly Squash (Butternut) Seedlings (Row 9): Not growing Squash (Yellow Straight Neck) (Row 10-r): Leaves turning yellow and being eaten Parsley (Forest Green) (Row 10-l): Cannot tell if any non-weeds are coming up. Parsley (Forest Green) (Row 11-l): Cannot tell if any non-weeds are coming up.

Zuchinni (Row 12): Cannot tell if any non-weeds are coming up. Cucumber (Marketmore) (Row 13): Cannot tell if any non-weeds are coming up. Parsley (Italian Dark Green Flat) (Row 15): Cannot tell if any non-weeds are coming up. Collards (Georgia Green) (Row 18): Growing very slowly. Brussels Sprouts (Row 19): Growing very slowly.

Onions (Golden Onion of Parma) (Row 20): Cannot tell if any non-weeds are coming up. Honeydew Melon (Early Dew) Seedlings (Row 21-r): All eaten and dead Watermelon (Sugar Baby) Seedlings (Row 21-l): Not growing Pumpkin (Jack Be Little) Seedlings (Row 22-l): Not growing

To the right is a picture under the straw. Look at how it's wet and gradually breaking down. It's feeding the soil as I type this! In the Fall, I will collect leaves from local trees and add them to the garden to feed the soil over the Winter.

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July 2009 Garden Experiences