The garden is humming along and it has become apparent to me that going "au natural" is not the best way to get a productive harvest. This saddens me greatly....
I thought that by improving the soil, increasing the organic content, and putting everything back into the soil each year, we would automatically get great yields.
I was wrong and I am increasing my fertilization efforts. I am also realizing that starting the garden, outside in the cold, did not produce "hearty" plants that would outperform. Instead, it most likely stunted the plants and made them weaker. Lessons learned....
Peeking in on the Amaranth, you can see no flowers or seed heads! Seriously, these are taking forever! I opted out of growing chia for this very reason. Perhaps amaranth will have to be scrapped in zone 4? Or I need to source an earlier variety.
Here's a look at the beans, swiss chard, beets, and yellow crookneck squash. I have 3 tranches of beans growing so the heights are all over the board. This is due to flea beetle damage. Severe flea beetle damage!
I have had the WORST luck growing things in the organic miracle grow potting soil. The bottoms of these pots (where the casa blanca bulbs are is eco scraps brand soil.) The top, where everything else was is miracle grow. So disappointing!
A close up of one of the potatoes. Yes, they probably have blight. I have been picking out all the yellow and blighted leaves over the past few weeks.
If I can remember....I will feed these plants with an organic fertilizer, mulch them with leaves in the fall, then remove them in the spring. Add a non-leaf mulch (due to slugs) for the summer, cut off all runners until the last year, and remove them at 3 years. At that time, I'll move the rocks, add more compost, and add new plants saved from the runners. I will also intermingle peas, beans, and walking onions to deter pests and add fertility back to the soil.
Just when you think you have it all figured out, it gets infinitely more complicated. I want this garden to be self sufficient and not rely on outside and certainly not "chemical" inputs.
To truly be self sufficient - I will need to source a local mulch that doesn't attract slugs, a renewable/organic fertilizer source, and a way to protect plants during the cold season that does not stunt their growth.
I will be experimenting with using pond scum as a fertilizer source in a limited way in the near future, and will ramp up my harvesting of forest pine needles for mulch. I'm also going to move my compost heap from the area where my husband drops his herbicide riddled grass clippings so I can finally start to use my compost in the garden.
I am also looking into mushroom hunting events so I can learn to properly identify and incorporate fungi into our garden soil.
More articles from this year's garden:
19 Tomatoes and counting
Growing Heirloom Tomatoes without electricity
2015 Garden Part 1
2015 Garden Part 2
2015 Garden Part 3
2015 Garden Part 4
2015 Garden Part 5
2015 Garden Part 6
2015 Garden Part 7
2015 Garden Part 8
2015 Garden Part 9
2015 Garden Part 10
Keeping Slugs off Your Strawberries Forever!
Growing Flaxseed in the Home Garden
Growing Potatoes from the Grocery store
Growing Espalier Grapes on a Fence
Can Tomatoes Survive temperatures below 28 Fahrenheit?
A full list of the edibles in our garden as of July 2015:
4 Varieties of Blueberry
3 Varieties of Red Raspberry (2 summer, 1 fall)
Red, White, and Pink Currants
2 Varieties of Gooseberries
Dill, Sage, lemon balm, thyme, parsley, cilantro, basil
6 Varieties of Tomato
2 Varieties of Potato
2 Varieties of Grapes (1 red, 1 white)
2 Varieties of Strawberry (1 june, 1 alpine)
Snap peas (2 types)
Cucumbers (2 types)
Pineapple Ground cherries
Purslane (2 varieties)
Scarlet Runner Beans
Honeyberries (2 varieties)