The side protection of my garden beds rained away

Exposing the edges of the garden beds to the wetter.
Have you noticed the garlic?

I was not very pleased to see the edges of these garden beds exposed. These are the old hill beds, I flattened out and gave enclosures out of straw. The rain and wind took this straw down and away. The other thing I noticed is the grass that is coming trough everywhere. I am not very happy about that either.

So my son helped me and we cleared the edges, put some cardboard down and divided a thick layer of straw over the cardboard to support the edges.

We took the additional straw from the straw bales that stood at the side as a windbreaker. We took these a little apart last fall, but these did not do much of a breakdown, so enough of the straw is still good to use around these beds.

The first bed is done, 2 more to go, but we will do that on another day.

About the wind breaking straw bales, which are more like a straw hill the kids love to play on, the straw is wet and partially black, but not really decomposing yet.

I was hoping to plant in this in the spring, but there is no soil to plant in. Since it is hard to reach with a tractor I am going to loosen the straw bit by bit with a hayfork. This will take some time, since it is heavy, but there is still some time until spring and if the straw has not decomposed enough by then, I will just make a hole and put some soil in to plant in. This amount of straw does not dry out so easily and make for a nice experiment this summer, since the summers generally tend to get dryer every year.

How did the bed underneath the trees do?

I only had planted 3 Pumpkins, 3 rows of potatoes and a few kale and watered only a few times during the hot and dry summer

This big bed is underneath a group of trees and a few years ago we had stored the manure, we managed to get, here. After spreading the manure in the garden, there was some left and we spread that here. We also spread some soil from a hill bed we took away. In this hill bed we had grown potatoes and we missed a few during harvest, so last growing season a lot of potatoes sprouted in a big corner of this bed. At some point I interplanted them with some kale. I had too many kale plantlets and did not want to throw them in the compost.

This kale, I did not cover and was amazed that for a very long time the cabbage white did not find it. The kale grew nice and big until they did. The caterpillar devoured the kale, but the top stayed undamaged and the kale grew on a little again. What I wonder is, if I had not “cleaned” the bed from all of the big weeds overgrowing the potatoes and kale, would the cabbage white still have found the kale, or not?

We harvested a bucket full of nice size potatoes in this corner. We lost some to mice and some sprouted again to beautiful potato plants.

The pumpkin plants grew very big and spread everywhere. They looked nice and healthy and we had a big harvest from only 3 plants.

The 3 rows of potatoes, I only harvested a few days ago. Everything looked bare and brown compared to the summer, where the plants looked green and beautiful. Luckily not many potatoes where damaged by frost, despite the fact that the potatoes where barely covered by mulch. There where clusters of many small potatoes, but there also where a number of bigger potatoes. I harvested about 8,5 kg. Not bad from potatoes left from last years harvest and just put into the ground somewhere without really caring for them.

Al in al we had a nice harvest from this bed without putting much effort in. I‘m not sure jet what I will do here next season. I’m thinking beets and carrots. Will see.

Growing food in a mortar bucket filled with sheep wool and soil

Experiment developed due to the heat and drought of last summer

The fact that I constantly had to water the garden last summer gave me an idea for an experiment. Although it was already mid summer and for most things to late in the season to sow, I just wanted to try to see what it does.

I prepared 2 mortar buckets, starting with a layer of wool, soil and wool and soil and wool. I finished with just a bit of soil spread over the last layer of wool, so the wind won’t blow the wool and seed away. This was watered thoroughly. In this I sowed some green mustard, carrots, beets and some flowers.

The idea is that this does not need watering, because the wool can store a lot of water and gives it to the plants as they need it. There fore I will not water these buckets at all, but they only get some water when it rains. Of course I did not make a science of this experiment and I forgot to keep track of how long it went without rain, but some seed sprouted and some plants grew.

The first few weeks there was no rain, but we had damp nights which obviously brings moisture to the plants as well. By the time the plants became bigger the rainy time started, so I am not sure how much the wool brings over a longer dry period, but I am sure I will find that out next summer. What I did find is that the bit of soil I spread on top of the last layer of wool became a very hardy crust which is not ideal if you want to grow anything in there. I will loosen that up and maybe put a thicker layer of wool on top when the new season starts in spring.

I am also planning to experiment some more with wool and maybe mulch an entire raised bed with it. The birds will probably also love that.

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