It has once again gotten unseasonably hot. We are a month ahead due to the weather and it has been a scramble to get everything planted for summer, and clear the beds of bolting plants from the winter crops.
We leave the nicest ones of each kind to collect the seeds for next year. This year we had a huge crop of many kinds of lettuces and greens. So we pulled the extra ones, cut them up a bit, and used them for mulch.
We usually dig in some crushed granite for the minerals and the worms (they need it for their gizzards which grind up the organic matter going thru their long intestinal system), and make trenches for the kitchen waste we save, and cover them up (more worm food).
We don’t till but we do use a ‘golden claw’ cultivating tool which just flips the top dressing under.
So far we’ve planted all the west beds (8 big beds) and have added a lot of perennials in the food forest on the east side. I am particularly interested in adding flowering and bee/butterfly/hummingbird/pollinator/beneficial insects plants. All the beds contain marigolds, calendula where it works out as a companion, and zinneas as well as flowering perennials. This helps the bees forage and makes the plants that depend on pollination by insects attractive to them.
I have two long rows of large containers I plant as part of my demonstration garden. One is along my front walk and the other over on the east side uphill from a berm we put there to hold back torrential rains sweeping off our topsoil (which is about 8 years old now). In these pots we grow a number of herbs for convenience (many are culinary) but also to contain from overtaking the garden including mints and oreganoes. This past two weeks I have cleaned them of dead plants, planted them with perennials and some annual seeds, and top dressed with chicken poop in a matrix of chicken bedding. I would never dig this in as it’s too ‘hot’ for the roots, but is like a time release fertilizer every time we water.
We also have added some plants which repel unfriendly bugs like aphids and various kinds of beetles like squash beetles (radish on the squash hills is a good one for that). A ‘guild’ in permaculture usually contains in a family of plants those which help keep the enemies of your plants away and the good friendlies made welcome.
I also made up a big batch of bug repellent spray for myself and interns. It’s basically beauty berry leaves decocted and left overnight, then infusions of lemon grass, ginger, lavender flowers and stems added. To this I add a few drops of lavender essential oil as a preservative and vanilla extract (the real not the fake), and Geranium rose essential oil as a tick repellant. This keeps off mosquitoes, ticks, and other flying beasties. It makes a very dark tea which you then dilute and use in a spray bottle. I like to dilute it 50/50. It smells nice and works great.
I took a lot of time this year to do companion planting research to give all my plants the benefit of this tech. We added amends to the soil and gave each plant the right location for its needs. Took more time but we’ll see if it pays off. So far we’ve got two beds of tomatoes and all their companions, one bed of hot peppers, one of Ashwagandha and its sisters, one of zucchini, one of mixed roots, and one of amaranth. Last year I had my first amaranth planting and it did well so with enough plants this year I hope to have enough to make some bread or to add to pancakes for the added protein and minerals. We also got two parts of the three sisters going at an open area of the food forest, leaving the pole beans until the corn is over a foot tall. We used some heirloom varieties of corn and various kinds of squashes. More will go in when the moon planting from Farmer’s Almanac says it’s a good time for transplanting. I moon plant from that taking care to plant on days that are most favorable. It has to do with the moon’s pull on the moisture and energetics on the planet. It seems to work well.
A friend from my ladies homestead group gifted me with comfrey and we’ve been adding the plants to the perennial beds. We put in Rosa Rugosa (medicinal rose grown for the rose hips), vitex bush starts, and a few other medicinal and flowering plants here and there where there is room.
The ground ivy has taken over large areas of the food forest so we have been pulling it up and making mulch out of it. It’s very persistent so we’ll see how that works. Likewise the peppermint has gone nuts so that gets added too.
We had so much rain everything went nuts. But slowly we are getting things done. However, now we can only plant in the mornings till it gets into the 80s, then we come in. I have to watch for heat exhaustion because I am overcome quickly and if I push on, I get hit hard. When you get into your 70s, things change. And I have to watch my interns and keep us all hydrated in the heat. Rob (26) seems to do better than the others. But I make everyone wear wide rimmed hats to help keep the sun’s influence less.
I make a kind of DIY ‘gatorade’ with filtered water, fresh squeezed lemon juice, some grapefruit juice, a couple of tablespoons of unprocessed cane sugar and a teaspoon of Himalayan sale with a handful of spearmint leaves crushed for the flavor. We drink this and it is reviving.
I wish I had some water kefir grains to make that because when you add water kefir to the mix it really revs up the energy and is delicious. And you get the benefit of the probiotics as well. Water kefir has the best blend of probiotic beneficial gut microbes of almost any of the other fermented beverages, even Kombucha.
Spring has turned to summer so quickly I’m scrambling to either purchase started summer plants or get them seeded in seed cells for filling in the rest of the beds. The east side has 9 large beds for annuals which I haven’t even begun to plant. But I do have cucumbers and other seedlings in the wings waiting till we can get to them. And this coming week we will seed start beans, and a bunch of other summer plants. It should be a good summer. But now I have to go out there and water because it’s going into the high 80s today, maybe even hitting 90. And the babies out there which we just put in need the support.
Hope you are having a lovely gardening spring.