Sunday, March 20, 2011

Garden, 1/27/08, RaisedBed
Some cool Garden images:

My Raised-Bed Garden 1/27/08

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Image by redteam

One of the things that I was really excited about getting into once I moved back to Los Angeles from Santa Cruz was vegetable gardening.

What you see here is a 2' x 8' raised-bed garden that Boja and I built. Most of the books I've read talk about 4' x 4' beds, but I like this setup and it fits better in my wreck of a backyard anyway.

Raised-bed gardens are great. They produce a higher concentration of food than crops planted in rows (which are better for very large operations) and you don't have to deal with lots of the nonsense that planting in the ground entails: no soil amendment (which can take years) because you start with good soil right away, fewer drainage problems, easy tending (don't have to bend over as much), and many other benefits.

This picture was taken on 1/27, almost exactly three months after I constructed and seeded the garden. The stars, from left to right are: Radishes (already harvested all but one - they grow really fast!), Nantes carrots, Royal Chantenay carrots, Red Chard, Imperator carrots (putting them in between the chards was a big mistake - they get almost no sun), White Chard, and some fallow space (couldn't decide what I wanted in there so I "left my options open" - oh well - I guess I'll just grow forks).

Cats love to take dumps in the soft soil of gardens. They must think that they're huge deluxe cat boxes. Before the plants really got going, I had to deal with a couple of cat incidents. "Never again", I said. So I got a bunch of sticks (the trunks of my vanquished enemies, Ailanthus Altissima) and leaned them on the side of the box to make climbing in unpleasant. To make things even more unpleasant, I set rows of carpeting tacks on the edge of the box (yes, spike strips). In the case that a cat ever got through all that, I have strategically embedded plastic forks in the soil with the tines pointing upwards. That way, when the prospective dumper tries to lower his furry little butt over the soil, he feels the sting of "Dixie's Pitchfork". I also spread black pepper over the soil to discourage any jumping squirrels or tiny vermin. Apparently, it stings their paws.

So far, everything has worked. My guess is that the spikes are the most "instructive" method. My only enemies now are the occasional caterpillar and the ruthless aphid hordes.

As for the crops, they are delicious. We have already made several impressive dinners out of the chards. As of mid-March, the carrots are still not quite ready. I think they need lots and lots and lots of very regular watering.

As soon as I sort out a problem with the faucet in the backyard, I will invest in a drip-watering system. I already have the timer/controller. As it is now, I have big tubs of water that I fill up and leave out for a couple of days so that the chlorine and chloramine can get the hell out. Then I put that water in a watering can and have picture-perfect watering moments.

I think the chards will stick around until it gets really, really hot. By then, I will have tomatoes, squashes (like zucchinis, yum!), and some other interesting things.

gazebo in Kalmia Gardens


Image by Martin LaBar

A gazebo in Kalmia Gardens, Hartsville, Darlington County, South Carolina, USA. The Gardens are part of Coker College.

My wife took this photo.

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