Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Veg Garden Tour

This is where I live for a good 4 months of the year (and if I'm lucky, 5).  I work my garden nearly full time during the warmer months which sounds like an exaggeration but I assure you, it isn't.  Our gardens are large, extending far beyond the confines of these pictures and managing them takes a lot of time.  I don't mind it though as I do think it's good to work a bit for your food.  We don't grow everything we eat and we are far from self sufficient ~ we simply aim to grow as much as we can (which I know is vague).  Some years are successful and others, not so much.  Weather, family needs, health issues, garden mistakes... all those things combine and every year yields a very different harvest.

Our main annual veg garden is fenced which keeps the deer, rabbits, neighbouring farm dogs and chickens out.  That said, our cat finds the fence only slightly restrictive (it merely slows his access rather than preventing it).  He regularly scales the 6' wooden posts and drops down into the garden when I'm working (which is basically every day).  He likes to keep me company and watches curiously as I sweat and contort myself to tend this plot of food and restore my sanity.   He interrupts this watching of me with brief prowls through the network of pathways peeking under plants and around corners to hunt for mice.  He is a cold blooded killer with the pinpoint accuracy of a sniper.  I'll not say anymore about that - I'm sure you can imagine the rest.   I watch him equally closely because I don't want him relieving himself in the garden!   The pathways are covered in a thick layer of wood chips and the bedding areas are filled with dense plantings (there's very little exposed soil to dig in). I've never seen him use the garden as his latrine but should the idea strike, I've got the hose ready at my side :)

This is the view when I first walk through the main access gate that leads to the garden and the chicken coop.  We walk here many times each day (I'd hazard a guess at 20 times or more?).



I'm growing numerous varieties of pole beans and all around them, there's a variety of companion vegetables such as celery, chard, lettuce, savoury and an embarrassing showing of carrots (below) which are too shaded to thrive.  I'll rip them out and sow lettuce there today.





Below, is the same garden space (viewed from the gate in the same spot as the first picture) before it was planted (late May).



Continuing on to the coop, this (below) is the view from the front step, looking out onto the main garden.  Forgive my hand at the top of the picture ~ that early morning sun was so bright, I couldn't get a decent shot without shading the sun out a bit.   It may be hard to see, but each side of the garden is a series of keyholes.   Can you see a large pile of wood chips on the left at the double gates?  That was my work for yesterday - it's all spread now :)



Incidentally, here's a photo taken from the same spot in May.  The keyholes are easier to see in this picture :)



The area with the beans (in the first pictures up above as you walk through the main gate) is seen in the distance at the top left.



...and here's the same view (below) in May.



Here's the garden from the other end directly opposite from the coop (looking toward the coop from the raspberry patch).  You can see brassicas, potatoes, beets and herbs on the left and tomatoes, carrots, peas and herbs on the right. 




The peas are just staring to be picked....


The cabbage is forming nicely....


The broccoli is forming rapidly and is being picked each day.



The raspberries are fruiting and are COVERED in berries!  The bees have fully enjoyed the flowers which made the canes HUM for a good 2 weeks.  You could literally hear it 20 feet away.




Speaking of bees, they also love borage which I planted with the pickling cucumbers.  



It seems to be working as the cucumbers are now fast forming.  VERY soon, we will be drowning in pickles (which is fine by me as we ran out of last year's MONTHS ago).



Lastly, here's a typical harvest basket, although since this picture was taken, the volume has ramped up!  We have much more coming in every day, so there's lots to do to preserve it all.  




This year has been a lot more work than usual as I renovated the garden by digging down permanent pathways while placing the dug out topsoil onto the beds to raise them up.  We had MANY truckloads of wood chips delivered and have heavily mulched the paths (which effectively hold and direct water through the garden as well as suppressing weeds).  

My shoulder tells me that I've dug too much over the last few months, but I think the effort has been worth it.  The soil seems to be in fine condition and the paths/swales appear to be doing their job.  It's time to enjoy the fruits of my labour and preserve the generous offerings of my dear garden.