Thursday, November 29, 2007

Winter Garden Update - November

So sorry for the sub-par quality of some of these pictures; namely blur. They were taken in the evening, and I didn't use flash because it makes foliage pictures look horrible, in my opinion.

As you can see, our garden has taken on a different appearance since last update. A frost earlier in the month destroyed the remaining tomato plants, marigolds, and peppers. That was expected, so we were not crushed. Now what we have left is lettuce, fava beans, carrots, some spinach, and (surprisingly to us) garlic.

The lettuce has become much more prolific than back in October. Spinach is not doing nearly as well; my theory is that the prolificacy of the lettuce is hindering the spinach. Or maybe it's too cold, or maybe our soil's not right for it.
Also, I have no idea what all those other little weeds are. They are extremely widespread in our garden; they're even popping up in the now-defunct containers. As you can see behind the lettuce patch, I had mulched with some pine needles (for a now-defunct Siberian tomato seedling, which we had winter hopes for). You might also notice that the darn weeds are poking up right through the pine needles! I thought I had built up a big enough layer, but apparently not.

Peas are more or less the same as they were before, albeit some of them are no longer firmly attached to a trellis. Credit for that is attributed to a certain little puppy running wildly through the garden whilst attached to a leash, thereby knocking over all the trellises. Harmony is surprised that the peas are still alive, considering we have had at least a couple of nights with freezing temperatures. If I'm not mistaken, we're growing these more for the soil benefits than actual desire to harvest peas. Or maybe we've had "diversity" requirements impressed upon us by higher-ups.

Compare with previous picture, similar angle. The monster carrot continues to become more monstrous. With the tomato plants no longer hogging all the water/nutrients, the carrots in that area have been doing much better. According to Wikipedia's list of companion plants, carrots are good for tomatoes, but tomatoes might stunt the growth of carrots. No source is cited for that statement, so who knows whether it's really true or not.

We had planted many cloves of garlic at the beginning of October. We had resigned ourselves to the sobering fact that we would not have any garlic this year, since it had been more than a month, seemingly without any germination. However, we were quite pleasantly surprised to find that the Thanksgiving rain apparently jumpstarted the garlic growth. Yesterday we counted at least 12 sprouts. I can only find about 8 or 9 in this picture.

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8 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Ron and Ginny

    Well, I don't know what you want to accomplish with this garden, but I have some advice: pine needles and vegetable gardens do not go together. They would do very nicely on blueberries, but not on the vegetable garden. Do you have grass that you mow? You could bag them and use them for mulch, or get a couple of bales of clean wheat straw (not hay). Also, the garlic (depending on where you live) could use some mulch over it for the winter. If you have short winters, then just an inch or so of some kind of mulch that you pull away from each individual plant in the spring, when the spring growth begins. How far south are you? :-D

  • JunkMale

    I don't know what we want to accomplish with it either ;)

    Our backyard grass is too sparse to produce enough mulch to be effective. It's also a very small backyard.

    We are in the northern half of Georgia, in what could still be considered the greater Atlanta area. I don't know about the length of our winters...it's cold now, and it will probably continue to be cold until late April.

    Thank you for the advice. We might look into getting some real mulch now, instead of just raking up pine needles that fall in our backyard.

  • Ron and Ginny

    "I don't know what we want to accomplish with it either ;)" LOL! I understand.

    Pine needle mulch is wonderful, but it is acid and should be used on acid-loving plants.

    Maybe you can get composted leaves from the city or if you see someone with bagged grass clippings on the side of the road, ask if you can have them. When we lived in Florida, my compost piles used to decompose so fast that I would walk the neighborhood looking for stuff like that. I would even rake yards, sometimes, just for the clippings. One time (LOL!!!) someone threw a large potted palm out to the side of the road and I hauled that thing home to throw in my compost pile.

    Now, we live on a couple of acres in Ohio and we have a garden tractor with a bagger and I have most of the grass clippings that I need and I can mow over the leaves in the fall and bag them and put them on the garden, too. I need to blog about it... :-)

    I love to see people growing their own food and I love to help, because I wish everyone had a garden and I want you to succeed. It is a nifty thing AND the Lord is the original gardener who gave mankind a garden to keep. I just LOVE gardening.

    Whew! Sorry for the long drawn-out comment. I can get carried away sometimes. :-D

    With what little area you have, you would be surprised what you can do. If you want a serious harvest, it is possible. Keep up the good work.

    Oh, yeah. Check out this blog:


    These people have a city lot in Pasadena and they have done amazing stuff.

  • Ron and Ginny

    Okay, I thought of more to say...

    Now is the time to start getting ready for the spring. Start piling stuff (leaves and grass clippings that you find on your forays) on the garden spot (which, I assume, is your whole back yard. Spread it, but keep it really thick. If you want a serious garden in the spring, you will have to dig up what you have, except for the garlic.

    Then, get some graph paper, measure your garden spot (including all the features, like patio and stuff that will have to be worked around), draw it out on graph paper, and start planning. You may have to draw about a dozen plans, but it is worth it.

    Order lots of seed catalogs and study them, reading the descriptions of the different varieties, and make your decisions. Even if you are not going to start seeds, you will get a lot of information about the different varieties and most seed catalogs have gardening hints and tips, especially about specific plants.

    Then, in the spring, stick to your plan and keep a journal of what you are doing and what happens in the garden. Always keep documentation of everything. That is how you will learn the best way to do things for your particular garden over the years. Gardening involves continuous changing, experimenting, wild successes, and dismal failures. But, it is worth it and I encourage you to do it.

    AND I hope you do it all organically. ;-)

    Well, how is that for a little friendly, un-asked-for advice?

    If I overwhelmed you, I'm sorry. I will not be offended, in the least, if you just ignore me. :-D

  • JunkMale

    Ginny (or Ron, you never know),

    You must not have been a regular reader back in the first half of the year, when we began this garden. Harmony has already planned out our garden for next year...on an Excel spreadsheet, which I suppose is the modern-day analog to graph paper. It has gone through multiple iterations as well.

    Harmony has also done very thorough research on all sorts of seed varieties and cultivars. We have also saved plenty of seeds from the healthiest plants from the spring/summer garden.

    We try to keep it as organic as possible. I used some Round-Up way back before we put anything in the ground, so our garden would technically not be eligible for a hypothetical 'organic' certification. And we've since used some ant poisons as well. But now since we have a doggy who frequents the backyard, those will be things of the past. However, I might still go with spot applications of Round-Up (Round-Up on a paintbrush, for example) every now and then.

    BTW, I've done a whole post saying that you do not need to apologize for long comments. And yours' were appreciated comments anyways, so there is absolutely no need to apologize. We like it when people comment, and we like it when people comment long (usually).

  • Ron and Ginny

    Thank you for your gracious reply. In my excitement over saying what was on my mind, I didn't think of looking up all the past gardening posts. I did that just now and I can see that you all have it completely under control. :-D

    I'm sorry for such long winded, arrogant comments. I get too excited about gardening. ;-)

    You guys are doing a good job and it is nice to have family from whom to get gardening help and advice.


  • Harmony

    Ginny, I completely understand! It's so hard not to get overexcited. :D And thank you so much for your help. I really do appreciate it. Despite our feeble attempts at planning and knowing what we're doing, we're really just fumbling our way through all this gardening stuff. I think JunkMale and I both learned a lot about gardening this year, and I'm hoping to put that into practice in our garden next year. Mistakes are a great teacher. :)

    Someday we hope to move to a home with a larger yard so that our entire backyard isn't taken up by the garden, but for now we're grateful for what we have.

  • Harmony's Mom

    I'm excited you all are excited about a garden! I also agree that pine straw is not the best mulch. It's great for the plants out front, so rake it up & put it on them out (or the landscaped plants in the back.

    Be careful of picking up lawn clippings. If the grass has gone to seed in any way or if there are weeds in there you risk picking up grass or weed seed. Old rotten logs can sometimes be good mulch, but they are messy. My favorite is horse manure, but I've heard cow manure is better. But that can be really messy & smelly. Happy gardening!