How’s your garden? This Summer in Connecticut has been generous with rain and heat and sunshine. Lush. I began using a method this year that relies on several factors to keep water in the soil and me (eventually) out of the garden: No tilling, a deep wood mulch in the paths, and a deep compost & hay mulch on the beds (or cover crops). I’m trying to create a garden that requires very little time input from me each year, little weeding, and zero or little watering. I won’t know how well it works until the next dry patch.
View from the patio. Left, beebalm bed at the foot of the Magnolia is starting to peter out but is still getting lots of hummingbird attention. Middle, blueberry bed with assorted potted things clustered in and around it. The tall red things are cardinal lobelia, which is rarely in bloom at the same time as the beebalm. It’s usually blooming much later in the Summer. No idea what was different this year. Rear, the veggie garden. Far right, banjo music.
Inside the garden:
One long row of Lutz Beets are sized up and ready to come out. I’ve already eaten a few monsters. I planted another short row elsewhere in the garden, for Fall & Winter eating. This guy is probably going to get pickled next week. Lutz is living up to its reputation for making large roots that remain tender and not woody.
Shallots are lying on the ground and have paper covers. That means they’re ready to come out and dry in the shade. Just in time! I can replant their rows to Fall crops, especially my coveted hakurei turnips. Alliums are supposed to be good for clearing the ground of bad grubs in advance of susceptible crops. We’ll see. This bed will need a heavy dose of compost after the shallots come out.
Chard, as usual, is ridiculously self-sufficient and abundant. All I do after initial composting/mulching is tear off any damaged leaves and lie them on the ground to rot into the mulch and keep feeding the plants.
The timbers to the right are coming out soon. I removed almost all my timbers this Spring, and filled the paths 5-6 inches deep with wood chips and shavings. My neighbor had a bunch of trees felled and the stumps ground. He was happy to let Scott and me cart away a couple dozen wheelbarrow loads. The shavings are supposed to act as a sponge or reservoir throughout the garden in order to reduce or eliminate watering. So I’m taking out the timbers to get better soil contact between the sides of the beds and the shavings.
Bonus: almost no weeds in the paths.
Last year’s cuke tower is this year’s bean tower. Two romano type and one ‘Fortex’ filet type. The pole beans got off to a bad start. Birds kept destroying them as soon as they came up. So they were replanted at a later date and finally a few came through unmolested. After this season, the tower will be retired. In the future I’m doing only temporary bamboo structures with twine, that can be disassembled and moved around easily for crop rotation.
Leon’s Jarrahdales are running out the back of the garden onto the lawn, as hoped and planned and encouraged. The leaves in the low foreground with a wavy edge are those of Galeux d’Eysines, some warty heirloom Fronch squash variety I wanted to try.
Blurry baby pumpkins! Yay!
Mmmmm. My favorite zucchini noodle, Tromboncino (aka ‘Rampicante’, meaning rampant, which is truly how it grows). This zucch is less than ten inches long but it will grow to around 2 1/2 feet and still be green to use as zucchini. One plant will make many squashes.
When I let it mature to buff brown, it makes a pretty good Winter squash since it’s related to Butternut. The Tromboncino I let mature last year outlasted all the other squashes for winterkeeping. It was over three feet long. I started at the stem end, and only would slice off what I wanted to cook that day. Incredibly, the cut end would heal. The remainder stayed in fine shape on the counter for weeks and weeks. I finally ate the last of it in June.
It’s not as sweet and fine as other Winter squashes, but the firm zucchini noodles it makes, its prolific nature, and the winterkeeping ability all make it worth growing every year.