Friday, 1 May 2009

The planning of our garden


Vegetables that grow well in our garden with little sunlight
Our garden stays between the city building in a half-shadow, humid place. There is plenty of trees and birds. At most, a few places receive about 4 hours of sunlight per day. Plenty of our vegetables seem to be growing well, such as the celery, lettuce, kohlrabi, rucula, broccoli, swiss chard, carrots, beets, and plenty of herbs. The potatoes are growing fast although slighty leggy. The tomatoes, squash and pumpkins are growing slower, since the place is quite cool. Inside house, in a southern window, they grow really fast! The peas are fruiting but are doing quite poor. Interestingly, the spinach is also very slow, but I guess it was due to the unseasonable warm weather.

A brilliant idea: surround garden edges with colorful flowers!
We have put plenty of flowers surrounding its edges, such as tagete, aquilegia, phlox and petunias. It was a wonderful idea to make an edge of fire-colours in one side with tagetes, and with white, blue, rose and purple colors, in the other side, with petunai, phlox, aquilegia and fuchsia!

Starting from seed: better start indoors and then transplant
The herbs grow really well. We have a few beans sprouting indoors (the mung bean is very slow outside). We also have plenty of celery and basil that started from seed (germinate slowly but it is so nice to see the tiny plants). One word of advice, the celery and kohlrabi seem better when seeded first in trays. The chinese artichokes and tiger nuts also failed to sprout. We have tiger nuts but we bought the plant. The jerusalem artichokes grow surprisingly fast and easily. They seem to require little water. The plastic protection, mulching and hair were excellent deterrents to the slugs and to prevent drying. Yesterday, we planted then sweet and black potatoes. What also failed to sprout were the quinoa and millet, we will try again. And the lentils and all legumes sprout best first indoord and then transplanted to a rich compost-soil afterwards. The problem is really since the weather is so dry (an entire month with no rain!), in places without mulching or compost, the tiny seedlings do poorly. Finnaly, sowing by the moon is a wise idea, if you want to avoid poorly growing seedlings.

Raised beds
Weeds is not a problem anymore. It was just in April they were vigorous. Now, a brief weeding is enough, considering the fact that our raised beds never gain any signficant amount of weeds! However, in the raised beds, the soil is richer but seems to dry faster, since it is elevated. This is a problem. There is some difference for a few cultures, but it is early to say, how better the crops fare in raised beds comparing to normal soil cultures. Mulching definitely helps, if we only add it after the crops are already 5cm high, to avoid the slug problem.

100 Square meters: enough for partial food self-sufficiency
Each side in the figure is about 10 per 10 m. We have plenty of lettuce, celery, rucula, potatoes and carrots. I guess the exciting part would be to see how much harvest will the root crops give (considering the alternatives we have selected: potatoes, yacon, tiger nuts, sweet potatoes, skirret, jerusalem artichokes...). We also have a dozen of tomato, cucumber and pumpkin plants, but definitely these are growing slower outside, but already have a few flower tips. It seems that this size (10 x 10 m, 100 square meters) is already enough for providing a substancial ammount of food for daily supply (except cereals, fruits and rice). With dozens of plants for each food, more than enough will be harvested in a few months, even in our garden with little sunlight hours.

In summary, we are very happy with the idea of growing our own food!

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