We started this in three ways: (1) we added a high quality, organism-rich compost; (2) we added organic matter in the form of shredded leaves, straw, and wood chips; (3) we had the soil analyzed for nutrients so that we can amend imbalances. The compost and organic matter go hand-in-hand, as the organisms in the compost break-down the organic matter for use by the garden plants, releasing nutrients along the way, and the facilitate nutrient uptake by plants. Soil analysis in the garden showed a marked deficiency of phosphorous and the need for significant lime to raise the pH.
There were four permanent (perennial) plants already in the garden: asparagus (25 plants installed in 2011), raspberries (2011), rhubarb (1 plant, 2012), and horseradish (2 plants, 2012). The perennial plantings were increased by adding three new rhubarb roots and another 25 asparagus plants (Mary Washington). Four new raspberries were also added. So now we have two 30' long asparagus beds, the first of which will produce an initial crop this year. The first rhubarb will also be ready to pick, and the raspberries.
|Layout of the 2013 Garden (35' x 70')|
First seeds into the ground were peas. We planted four varieties of mixed maturation times so we should have a supply over at least one month. These will grow up A-frame supports I built over the winter out of 1" x 1" lumber and garden fencing.
Second into the ground were the potatoes, this year a more modest planting of six varieties (red Pontiac, German butterball, Carola, Nicola, LaRatte, and red thumb). Hopefully, the rains will be more modest and even this year, so that the potatoes will germinate. Last year we had so much rain that the potatoes rotted in the ground before getting a chance to sprout. In addition, this year I pre-sprouted the potatoes by exposing them to warmer temps and light for a week prior to planting. Planting potatoes is hard work.
The kale and beet starts were next into the ground. We put in about 90 beets, both golden and red, and 12 plants each of Tuscan kale and blue kale. We also cleaned up the raised bed and planted arugula. We also put in half a dozen shallots, some onions and leeks, and then there is the garlic we planted in October of 2012.
Finally, and another "planting" that once again involves digging, we planted the mushroom logs that had been inoculated in the spring of 2012. This involves burying the 4' logs about 2/3 of the way into sand. The logs were soaked in the rain barrel overnight to get things going. We have two shiitake logs, two oyster mushroom logs, and one maitake log. The oyster mushroom logs have been sending out tiny little mushrooms since late winter.