The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Broadforking followup and other garden observations

Rye comparison

Cutting ryeI went out with Mark to decide whether each rye bed was ready to be cut or not, and in the process I was struck by the difference in biomass production of various beds. My bed-by-bed approach to the garden means that some beds are extremely rich from lots of manure and cover crops, while other beds have managed to miss the boat on organic matter accumulation. The latter beds produced rye plants less than half as tall as the former beds with flower heads that are more like a quarter of the size. Those puny beds will get to keep their rye mulch, while I'll harvest the tops from the taller beds to use as mulch in other parts of the garden.

Carrot seedlings

Kayla reminded me that it was also time to take the first set of measurements from our broadfork experiment. The first bed I looked at was the mangels in the photo below. The top half of the bed was broadforked while the bottom half wasn't.
Mangel seedlings
Aha! I thought. Broadforking promotes better germination! (And boy do I need to thin those seedlings.)

Then I checked out the other beds I'd included in my first experiment. Of those, one other bed had germinated better on the broadforked side, two beds had germinated better on the non-broadforked side, and two beds looked the same on both sides. I guess there's not yet any clear result of broadforking on our root crops...but Kayla and I went ahead and broadforked half of a few more beds anyway to test out the results on summer crops.

Developing apple fruit

Another pressing question I'd been meaning to follow up on was --- does a low of 27 nip our fruit-tree flowers? Unfortunately, the answer appears to be yes. The developing apple Hardy kiwi flower budfruit pictured above is the only one I could find on all of our trees, and the pear fruits I'd been keeping my eye on have since dropped off.

On the other hand, there's at least one flower bud on one of our hardy kiwis. So maybe we wrote them off for the year too soon?

I'm starting to wonder if it would be worth making little anti-deer enclosures in other parts of the property just to see whether a hilltop location would beat these perilous late freezes. Of course, the smarter solution would be to scatter max-min thermometers around all the places I'm interested in during next year's dogwood winter before going to all the trouble of planting fruit trees outside our core perimeter. Something to ponder on a cold winter night....

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I hope you get to taste some Hardy Kiwis this year. Ours were loaded this year and with the removal of some trees are growing very quickly.

Comment by Brian Fri May 15 11:28:43 2015
The Nearings - before moving to Maine - always planted an "insurance" garden up above the Spring frost line, down in the flats. So I think that's probably a good idea; although the min-max thermometer may confirm this! All the best, ldc
Comment by ldc Fri May 15 11:52:55 2015
Oh no! ALL the apples and pears were lost? How terribly disappointing. we have had some recent freezes also, but I havent able to make it down to check the trees due to having to be on crutches from a knee injury. I think our blossoms have not set fruit yet, but i am sorry to hear most or all of yours were lost. It is a reminder for me that nothing is really guaranteed. But that is hopeful about the kiwi!
Comment by deb Sat May 16 05:57:05 2015

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