May 2010

Bed 4 -Fully Planted

Bed 4 -- Looking South, fully planted with potatoes

Each little hillock you see in this bed has a piece of potato buried 6-9 inches deep. Furthest away, towards the South and away from the little orange tree, are 25 sq. ft of Burban Russet seed potatos, then 50 sq. ft. of little, organic, red potatoes purchased at Bohemian Market in Occidental–these I treated w/sulfur fungicide like Shake N Bake in a plastic bag; the last 25 sq ft. closest to the little orange tree are planted with yellow fingerlings (purchased at Raley’s and also treated w/sulfur fungicide powder). I’m hoping these turn out to be my very favorite, Russian fingerling. I also interplanted sweet peas (Pioneer variety, started from seed in our greenhouse about a month ago), and direct-sowed a 5 foot length of Red Scarlet Runner Beans harvested in 2008, with the original seed from Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson, AZ. Finally, in the area closest to the orange, I planted 4 lemon cucumber starts and 4 cantelope starts.  I’m trying companion planting this year–I read in “Carrots Love Tomatoes” that beans, peas, and squash are good to interplant with potatoes.

Perhaps the hardest work was the bed preparation. I’m afraid I’ll have to delay the details to a later post, since I left the binder that has all of that information in it in the garage, and it’s late, cold, and raining. The good news is:  The potatoes are planted!

Bed 2 Fully Planted

Bed 2 - Fully Planted

Here’s a photo of Bed 2, looking towards the South. The soil preparation included adding 2 cu. ft. (3 x 5 gal. buckets) of home-made compost, and the following soil amendments:  1.5 oz Sulfur, 7 oz. gypsum, & 0.4 oz Boron (Fertibor) per Timberleaf Soil Test Report 27447, dated 25 April 2010.

Here, you see strawberries transplanted from Bed 9 (which is way too shady for strawberries, and too close to where the birds live), then we have 5 diCicco broccoli, 3 spinach, 2 orach (the pretty maroon-leaved plants), 6 celery, and sweet peas and more miniature strawberries amidst the parsley (which self-seeded from a previous crop). Note: parsley is a biennial.

Bed 3 Fully Planted 2 May 2010Here is Bed 3, fully planted with starts purchased today at OAEC’s Plant Sale.  In front are eggplants, peppers, a couple of green scalloped squash, and the rest are all different, interesting heirloom tomato varieties, including Al Kufta at the very back. Spacing is about 18-inches between the plants.

Bed Preparation: After “single-digging” (pushing a spading fork 12″ into the bed and moving it around to loosen the soil), raked in 6 cu. ft. home-made compost, 2 cu. ft. of  Fox Farm Planting Mix, 12 oz. Agricultural Lime, 2.5 oz. sulfur, 11.5 oz Gypsum, + 0.4 oz Boron (with the rest, 0.4 oz, to be added in the Fall).  This is all per the Soil Test recommendations from Timberleaf Soil Testing.

Home-made Compost:  Given that Beds 3-8 will require 6 cu. ft. (= 9 x 5 gallon buckets full) of compost each, that’s 36 cu. ft. of compost.  At 11.95 + tax per bag, Fox Farm Planting Mix (the only compost on the market that’s decent), that would be more than $430 just for those beds, and just for the Spring planting. Turns out that we’ve not only been composting our kitchen scraps and our bunny’s toilet (which makes beautiful compost, but not nearly enough). we’ve also composted all of the weeds we pulled last fall. And, guess what, they’ve produced “Black Gold”, the most beautiful compost you’ve ever seen, crawling with different varieties of earthworms! So, I sifted 9 x 5 gallon buckets and applied it to Bed 3. That’s why its soil looks so luscious.  My task over the next week will be to sift the huge mound of compost under our walnut trees into useable compost for our growing beds.  I think I’ll tackle about 9 x 5 gallon buckets full per day (that’s enough for a single bed) and see how far I get by next week-end.  Stay tuned.