The last garden started out with a bang but never came close to meeting expectations. We were concerned about the quality of the soil going into it. In an earlier life George had a pigeon coop overtop the area which became the garden. One possible thought was that with all the pigeon droppings, the soil would be very fertile. Counteracting that was the fact that George had liberally used lye and asundry chemicals to kill fungi and other pigeon related critters. In the end the garden turned out spotty – some ok patches and some sterile patches. We had a good broccolli crop, good green beans in some spots, japapeno’s and banana peppers. But the tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash were a big disappointment. The one good thing that we accomplished was to till up the soil and remove tons of rock and gravel that had rimmed the coop.
Knowing that the soil was seriously deficient, we started a significant mulch/compost pile – 4’x3′ x 3’h – and picked up 40 forty pound bags of manure at a sale midway through the season. So in preparation of a fall garden I started cleaning out areas of the garden – that means pulling out the weeds. I turned it all over by shovel and then worked in several loads of compost and several bags of manure into each area. Took about 4 hours to do the first third of the area I intend to work so I’m projecting having it all ready for planting by this weekend. Certain areas we planted before were so disastrous, I’m going to leave alone. Those areas are so hostile that even the weeds were unable to grow there and will be a project for the future. I suspect we’ll literally have to shovel out that sand and replace with top soil – more than I’m interested in attacking now. For the time being, I’m guessing the planting area will be maybe 300 sf.
Before we took off on vacation, I planted some seeds in starter containers. We were gone 10 days and the seeds were mostly sprouted by our return. I transplanted them from the starter trays into larger containers and plan to move those to the garden in a couple of weeks. I want to get just a bit further into the storm season until I’m confident we’re in the clear. I’ve started tomatoes, jalapenos, cabbage, and broccolli. Those along with bush bean, squash and cucumber seeds that will go in directly, should fill up most of the garden. Towards the end of October, I’ll plant spinach, peas, beets, carrots and lettuce seed and probably more broccolli. These late plantings should do ok through our coldest weather.
And I refilled the mulch/compost pile. That’s a fairly easy thing to do here. I just roll up my chipper to the front of the compost bin and start clipping and trimming trees and bushes.
A few hours of cutting and chipping restored the pile to it’s original volume. That pile will season over fall and winter and be ready for use next spring. For the area that is totally devoid of nutrients, the plan is a bit more radical. George has a 2 acre grass/weed field that gets mowed every month or so. The John Deere mower has two humongous grass catching bags. The plan is to dump those bags onto the sterile area every time he mows and then cut it all in next spring. I’m guessing that will result in a 6′ high pile of grass clippings. Maybe it will take a couple of years but I’m determined to get it all working.