A few days ago I noticed the thermometer read 92°F in the shade. Finally, summer has arrived! Here in the upper Midwestern plains, the growing season is very short. Gardeners must adapt to the ever-changing seasonal variations in order to make the most of only 4 months. A combination of age-old wisdom and cunning problem-solution is the only way to prevent crop loss. Temperature changes are difficult to control, but the real damage comes from hail, drought, birds, deer, rabbits and insects. Grasshopper infestations have worsened progressively in this area, enough to issue a county-wide pesticide deployment this month. Thankfully, our private homestead has not been affected.
The garden plot is relatively small, yet the space is maximized well. Ruby's mother, Renee, did a fantastic job tilling, preparing the soil, and planting the starters and seeds. Thanks to her hard work and knowledge, everything is doing wonderful. Our tomato beds, near the back and side of the house, are also happy and really starting to take off. Finding a decent tomato at the grocery store in this part of the country is virtually impossible.
The snow melt from the Bighorn Mountains creates a high-water run-off on Clear Creek every year. This year was really high. We lost our footbridge (which is our access to the road), and subsequently our jobs because of the flood. Unfortunately, our employers could not wait for us to figure out a temporary bridge. As a result, the garden is VERY important to us this year. Ruby and I spent the whole day weeding and thinning rows with an enormous amount of appreciation for our upcoming bounty.
Horse manure, chicken shavings, and compost are the primary fertilizers in our garden. The compost tumbler is an effective way to quickly and easily build beautiful soil from our own kitchen scraps. However, after researching appropriate composting techniques we discovered that our bin contained copious amounts of citrus rind and coffee grounds; highly acidic ingredients. Until we get our compost back into shape, we will not be using it on our plants.
Our garden is approximately 40 feet wide and 20 feet long, consisting of almost 30 different vegetable species. Here is a diagram of the layout:
(as well as a key for deciphering my funny characters)
- Nasturtium Flowers
- Chiles de Arbol
- Serrano Chiles
- Jalopeno Chiles
- Habanero Chiles
Hopefully soon I can buy some thyme, too. No pun intended, seriously. I am very happy that the Arbol seeds germinated since they are my favorite chile pepper. All of our chiles are in the greenhouse because they really like it hot. The herbs and chiles are all in pots so that we can bring them inside when the fall frost comes.
Beans need a strong support to grow upon.
Aerial view (notice the electric fence to repel deer)
Carrots prefer sandy soil.
Both carrots and beets must be thinned to ensure a large yield.
|Red Russian Kale|
|The asparagus has already gone to seed. Next year our yield will be much greater. It sure was delicious while it lasted!|