Post #1 - Northern Hemisphere - Zone 5/6 - New England
Topic: Why I started this research project. And so can you.
Main bed: 18 feet x 32 ft
Garlic bed: 20 feet x 30”
(Apologies to those on the metric system...).
First, a big thank you to the forum mods for keeping us on the straight-and-narrow, and to all the contributors helping to make this research project
a success. I appreciate the time it takes to craft a well-thought out post - especially when we’re all busy with lives and never-ending gardening
May all who visit find something of value in this endeavor.
As I've said before, this type of "research" is a bit different than other projects. It depends on first-hand observation. I've tried to build in a
more "traditional" research component but readers should understand that empirical study will weigh heavily here. To say it another way: It’s one
thing to post links to facts about food production. It's another thing to actually produce food.
One thing is clear to me: Everyone who is posting in this thread cares deeply about how we feed ourselves. Please listen to that message in their
In addition to posting updates about my garden, I’ll be contributing in the areas of:
**preservation - specifically canning and freezing
**crop rotation - my methods and what I base them on
**companion planting - ditto
**seasonal planting - ditto
**weed control - I'm going to focus on nutsedge
A little about me and my garden:
I have been gardening in earnest for the last three years. I’m not an expert by any stretch, but here's what helps me to be generally successful.
1) wormy soil
2) full sun and partial shade
3) human touch
4) trying, despite failure
5) learning from people who already failed
6) the internet
7) everyone wants fresh produce
water, nutrients, seed, sun, soil, rain, time, moon, weather...A person could go crazy trying to explore every factor in detail. Let’s all go crazy
STATE OF THE GARDEN
Garlic bed - “Perennials” - Garlic, Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Dill, Onions
The plants in this bed are all considered “companions” and I am testing this theory. They have root depths that don’t compete with one another
so they can be planted in closer proximity. The garlic takes up the rear of the bed, with the lettuce, chard, onions and dill interspersed in front of
the strip. This is the first year I’ve tried some of these plants as perennials - meaning some were left to reseed last year. My hope is to keep
this bed going by letting these crops go to seed each year, supplementing with new seed as needed.
The garlic patch is fully self-sustaining at this point. We let the garlic grow, go to seed, leaves brown up, then pull up the garlic and dry it in
our garage. It’s then stored, hanging, in our canning room. We haven’t had to buy any garlic for the last two years. The original seed came from
my grandmother, which came from her mother in law which came from I don't know where...
I let the lettuce go to seed last year and it came back nicely. We have several heads of loose leaf red, some loose leaf green, and some head romaine.
It’s a bit crowded, so the head variety doesn’t get as full, but it was a happy accident. I’ve decided to let it do what it wants. We’ve been
picking since early April. I’ll let it bolt again this summer and try to thin better next year. (As an aside I had a second patch of lettuce on the
other side of the garden which I let bolt as well. We had baby lettuce sprouting everywhere during the cooler months prior to deep freeze - fun to
have fresh lettuce in November).
The five Swiss Chard plants all came back and we’ve had two small harvests so far. I found that the first planting of chard in this bed last year
didn’t yield much - it may need a second season to get established. I’ve decided it might be best to establish a second permanent location for the
chard - the garlic bed may not have enough room for what will meet our year-round needs (five is NOT enough for seasonal use and freezing). I started
a second patch in the main bed but may need to try transplanting as that space needs to rotate year to year. No idea how chard takes to transplanting.
Onions were a fluke. I started spring onions/scallions from seed last year and they barely did anything. This year I have a cluster of four bulbs
popping out of the ground. I’d like to try a reseeding experiment (thanks woodsmom!). I also picked up a bag of red onion sets that didn’t look
too promising. Decided to try them as an experiment. These were planted 2-4 inches deep, depending on amount of green growth, spaced 4-6 inches apart,
in between the chard, lettuce, garlic, and dill.
edit on 21-5-2013 by otherpotato because: Forgot my post number