Friday, October 15, 2010

Going Forward

"Doe the nexte thynge"
(Saxon legend inscribed in an old English Parsonage)

It would seem there are many things in life that you can only aim towards without knowing quite how to get there. Mum says it is like that  in Poland, trying to get a train to a particular destination.  A garden can be like that too and it is only achieved one step at a time.
 Found an article in an old magazine about 'Dao' (Tao?) as a method of agriculture. Their focus is not on the soil but the way water travels naturally through it and they plant accordingly. So looking at this garden, on a slope, and the way the water runs from top to bottom, I've been thinking about how to slow it down to benefit the plants on the journey.

Now the garlic did come up the very week after I complained about it. I've put a little board on the lower edge to help retain that water. The beds also run across the slope for the same reason. Garlic is like all the members of the allium family who won't compete with weeds; hence the mulch and it will conserve moisture. When you get seed cloves in from outside your area they take 3 years to reach their full potential, each year adjusting a little bit more to your own climate and soil. Commercial growers apparently refresh their seed every 10 years or their yield drops. Who would have known?
Rhubarb continues to be a mystery. Took both photos today, what is going on? All plants have had the same treatment and that is a sulk.  Factors to consider:
  1. I woefully underestimated how dry it has got. First water of the season today and the ground is 'waterproof'. Everything runs off. One answer is to water a little, several times over the next few days and the ground will begin to rehydrate and hold water again. 
  2. I suspect the plant on the right was overpicked, too much for too long. Could have been me and that Rhubarb Caramel Crust Pudding...sigh. 
  3. The yellow leaves mean something, ummm, my usual mulch is grass clippings and that should provide nitrogen but they can just dry out and blow away instead of breaking down. First thing I'll try is liquid manure. Just got to set it up, and in this heat, wait a week. 
Enough about that except to say I have hatched a plan for the couch crop behind it and that is to lay down some black plastic and old tyres for a month and see what happens underneath.

Have finally chopped up some PVC pipe to make hoops to support netting or  fleece at the minute. The original purpose here was to protect the lettuce from the birds; a happy side effect of the dense netting is some shade which the lettuce seem to like.
Leeks below. I forgot to take account for just how long they are in the punnets and give them plenty of root room. A container with twice this depth would be more appropriate and I will repot them as soon as I see roots coming through below. It makes them easy to untangle when it is time to plant as well; the larger punnet size will also increase the water capacity so the plants are not as reliant on meticulous watering.
Those little lettuce are called 'Ruben'. Perhaps that is to suggest a red blush, or that they are colourful.
Now one of my favourite programmes on TV at the moment is The Mentalist. The character has, at times, pretended to have prescient powers but he is merely a keen observer of humanity. Well you don't need a crystal ball to look at those lettuce, and there are more out of screen, and say 'a glut is coming in the near future'.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Enter my cunning plan to plant them close together and thin out to eat as they grow. Nothing new, but a new refinement for me. 
That saxon quote comes from Elizabeth Elliot with a poem that she couldn't source:

Do it immediately,
Do it with prayer,
Do it reliantly,
Casting all care.

"And in the doing of whatever comes next, we are shown what to do after that."
Elizabeth, you are right.

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  1. Here is my "do what comes next" list for the next 28 hours:
    Get dressed
    Have breakfast
    Pack bag
    Go to airport
    Fly to wellington
    Meet Mary Anna
    Have fun (repeat as necessary)
    Come home

    Then think about the garden, because I have a whole lot of good ideas after being at your place last week.

  2. Garlic cloves take 3 years to reach their full potential... I didn't know that! I bought "proper ones" from Marlborough this year hoping for big bumper crops. I'm planning to save plenty for planting again next year, so it will be interesting to see if they improve and adapt to the Canterbury climate. I'm sure they'll be fine as long as they don't get shaken out of the ground :)
    Rhubarb is a funny plant. I divided mine and replanted it, and most of the leaves have been nibbled to spines, I presume by snails. I thought since they are toxic and used in organic insecticide they would have been safe!
    Have a great weekend.

  3. Well some of your garlic is now growing up in mine so I'll be interested to see what sort of crop I get from them. After a week away it has been lovely to have a weekend at home before heading away again next week. Your casserole dish is still at my place. You can come in and collect some time.

  4. 0000000000000000000000000000[.;ooooooooooooo00000000000000...............0...0

    um, that was from Benjy who insists on sitting on me whenever the computer's on. Such good advice, one step at a time.

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  6. your garlic is looking the best out of all the varieties i planted, so have high hopes for year 3. i have some 'ruben' lettuce seedlings too at the moment - must have had an appealing description in the catalogue. it's dry here too, eeek it's not even summer yet, and we had to top up our tanks with bore water today.

    (only deleted previous attempt to comment cause had embarressing typo...)