Glorious gardening

Lee got his new rototiller out and started breaking ground in the garden last weekend. It’s amazing how much more ground you can prepare when you aren’t turning the sod over by hand. Our garden hasn’t looked this good since the first year. In fact, if we keep this up, we will have to expand the garden area into the chicken pen to make room for warm season crops.

In the next picture, you can clearly see where the beds were last year. They tilled up super nice compared to the former walk paths. (Compaction in action.) Further to the left, the ground hasn’t been used in three years and will require considerably more passes to break up the soil to an appropriate depth.

Lee wanted to use raised beds this year. Raised beds increase the amount of loosened topsoil we have to work with, help the soil dry out sooner so they can be worked earlier in the year, and keep the growing areas well defined so we don’t step in the beds and compact the soil. That’s the theory anyway. We will see how we like them.

Three years ago we planted our first six blueberry bushes along the edge of the garden. We quickly realized they were in a bad location. We need to lower the soil pH for the blueberries but raise it in the garden, so having them right next to each other causes an unresolvable conflict of soil chemistry. They are also constantly in the way (especially when you are trying to turn a large tiller at the row end). Since then we’ve been planting blueberries along the northern garden fence, in an area we’ve set aside for perennial food crops. Lee moved two of the misplaced blueberries last year and is determined to move the rest this year. For the most recent move, he sliced out a cube of soil around the blueberry using a digging hoe and dug a square hole at the destination. Then he moved the clod of dirt in a carefully orchestrated debacle involving a piece of plywood, a shovel, a mallet, a hoe, and me. It was quite the project. Only three more to go…

I found most of the asparagus has returned. They were lost in a sea of weeds. I think we may actually get to harvest some this year if we can keep the weeds down. I’ve read that asparagus like salty soil. Has anyone tried salting their asparagus beds to reduce the weed load?

There has been a lot of weeding going on. Even though Lee has his new tiller toy he is still using his hoe for weeding and I’ve been getting dirty hands. The weeds are growing like crazy, but we are catching up.

One of my 2009 vintage seed rows sprouted with a vengeance. These turnips were the most successful row of old seed. Everything else is spotty. I think I may need to thin these a tiny bit …

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14 Responses to Glorious gardening

  1. Snowbrush says:

    I was wondering just yesterday if you’re thinking you might get big enough to sell some of your produce someday. You’ve got the room for it, and I would sure be in line to buy as I’m sure lots of other people would.

    • lee says:

      Coincidentally, this weekend I was just looking up the Oregon small farming regulations. I don’t think we are going to scale up substantially in the next year or two, but it’s always been in the plans. We’d probably specialize in a few crops at first. Garlic would be high on my list, as it’s easy to grow, has few predators, and sells for a good price.

  2. Ali says:

    Love that tiller! Things look great there. My garden looks so sad in comparison!

    • lee says:

      My back is loving it too! Yeah, I can’t complain about Oregon’s climate when it comes to gardening, especially when we have “normal” years like this one (so far).

  3. wow…that is one professional looking transplant job! Our usually look like a stick of dynamite exploded underneath the plant we moved! hehe. My grandmother always had raised beds and she loved them..great looking setup!

    • lee says:

      My experience with transplanting is that it’s always about 2x more work than I was expecting. Blueberries are supposed to be shallow rooted, so I thought a big flat dirt clod was a good idea, until I tried to move it. On the plus side, I don’t think the plant knows it was even moved. On the down side, I moved all the weeds with it too. :(

      Neither of us have experience with raised beds, but they are recommended in our Steve Solomon books. We’ve been using the basic layout for two years now (4′ wide beds, 2′ wide paths), so it shouldn’t be that much different. If nothing else, they do make the garden look pretty cool.

  4. Benita says:

    I tried to make a play on the “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How does your garden grow” rhyme, but coming up with something that rhymes with Robin besides Bobbin (which has nothing to do with gardening) was beyond my current brain capacity.

    Very pretty garden.

    • lee says:

      I agree. Speaking as one who has attempted to write various bits of clunky poetry in her honor, Robin’s name is annoyingly difficult to rhyme.

  5. Bill Gauch says:

    I’ve never tried salting the earth to kill weeds around asparagus. I have heard the same thing (that they are salt-tolerant). I toured a historic house around here, though, that was right on the (salt) water. It routinely floods with bay water causing lots of stuff to grow poorly, but their asparagus grew well. Sea water would magnesium chloride (Epsom salt) though which wouldn’t be as harsh as table salt.

    • robin says:

      We decided to try weeding it better and keep it mulched. There wasn’t enough to get a harvest this year. I would love to use salt as it sounds so easy, but I saw a lot of garden sites advising against it. **sigh**

  6. olemike says:

    Nice post. I’m looking forward to following your garden progress.

  7. Ann says:

    For the life of me, I cannot remember what I used on our asparagus beds the first year we got here (11 years ago). They are coming up fast and furious now, and I’ve got the fridge full with plans for making lots of asparagus soup in the future. I’ve let the weeds overcome the beds, and every year, I swear we’re going to mow the beds back and mulch until we can’t mulch anymore, and every year, we run out of time.

    It’s the story of our life. If I come up with a solution to the asparagus bed dilemma, I’ll let you in on it.

    • robin says:

      Oh, I am so envious. I LOVE asparagus! Our bed was so weedy I thought that was why we didn’t get a harvest this year. This is only the second year we’ve had it though. Maybe next year it will be better. I know what you mean on the mulching front. We’ve weeded it twice this year and so far Lee has it half mulched. Now I need to remember and finish the project.

      Enjoy your asparagus!! Yummy.

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