Monday, June 19, 2006

Sorry Sunday Slogging in the Vegetable Garden

We had a very disappointing morning in the vegetable garden. Our poor beets and Swiss chard plants are being choked out by weeds, but our heavy soil is still to damp to really work – even hand pulling the weeds removed big clods of wet soil, too frequently with the nearby desired plant in the clump. Our potatoes, planted a day or so before the heavy rains, are spottily sprouting, and also in need of some weeding. What do we do? The plants are still too small, if even sprouted, to mulch heavily, and what if we need to re-plant? Big, big sigh.

Both Dan and I think raised beds are the answer, it is just getting there that will be painful – the three raised beds that were here when we bought the place desperately need re-building, and we haven’t managed that yet. Oh well, we’ll see how the list goes this summer, maybe we’ll manage after we cross off some of the biggies (finish painting the house and barn, stain the new deck, clean and stain the old deck, etc., etc.).

We did manage to dig the red-twig dogwoods we had over-wintered in the vegetable garden and plant them. We planted 5 in the back corner of the mowed area, right along the west side property line, and just before our overgrown back 40 feet (which someday will be a woodland garden). It is hard to tell, but the dogwoods are planted in the back of the mulched area.

We bought a yellow-twig dogwood at the Bowdoinham plant sale last month, and planted that amidst the red-twigs. We pruned off some of the largest branches, and beginning next year, we will prune one third of the each shrub every year, thus generating lots of young bright red (and yellow) branches for winter interest, and keeping them in check, as they tend to readily sucker. This area is starting to look really good, the vision I am working toward is looking as good in reality as it does in my mind’s eye – amazing!

We planted one red-twig dogwood in the front garden, near the stone wall and visible from the kitchen windows, which will give us nice viewing in the winter. When the yellow-twig plant is larger, we can add some of that in front as well. This garden is also beginning to look really terrific. Those little plants are starting to fill out, and there’s a nice mix of texture, form, and color – and less lawn to mow! Next step here is the hypertufa walkway.

The clear sunny weather will be good for continuing to dry out the vegetable garden, perhaps later this week I’ll be better able to weed then mulch heavily with straw. At least the salad bed is producing well, and the tomatoes and basil are coming along splendidly, too. There is some hope for good eating later this summer.

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