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

May garden catchup

Pea flower

Even though I've spent all week talking about bees, most of my efforts have been in the garden.  The elongated spring has put us behind where we were in years past, but this week turned into summer, prompting me to play catch up.

Sweet potato slips

First on the agenda --- planting out everything that has been waiting in the wings until our last chance of frost passed.  Thirty beautiful tomatoes are now in the ground, all but three gifts and two homegrown Stupice started under quick hoops.  I had sprouted some tomatoes inside, but the outside starts were vastly larger and more vibrant, as usual, so the insiders went on the compost pile.

Meanwhile, I planted the first eight sweet potato slips.  I generally set these out a few at a time since they're homegrown and don't all root at once.  My garden plan tells me I only need four more slips to reach this year's quota, but I think I'm going to plant some extras in gaps in the forest garden as a summer cover crop.  Sweet potato vines definitely seem to produce at least as much biomass per unit area as buckwheat does, plus the tubers make great gifts.

Thinning peaches

I stole a few hours away from the vegetables to get the apples and peaches thinned.  Thinning and pruning are two of the most important factors in getting delectable fruits, but are the most often overlooked by home gardeners.  Sure, it's tough to pluck five baby peaches off the tree for every one I keep, but I've learned the hard way that peaches left too close together end up touching and are more prone to brown rot infestations.  In addition, breaking off young fruits damaged by Oriental fruit moths has helped decrease that pest's population, and also prevents the tree from pouring energy into fruits that will end up in the compost bucket due to maggot frass in the middle.  (Okay, I just cut out the bad spots, but still.) 

Thinning also helps prevent the tree from breaking branches under heavy fruit loads, and reduces your chances for biennial bearing.  Finally, thinned trees produce bigger, tastier fruits.  I figure it's well worth the hour I spent on our largest tree, and the few minutes on each smaller tree, to get all of those benefits.

Garlic and kale flowers

What didn't I have time for this week?  Weeding and mulching around seedlings planted earlier in the year and catching those weeds in the woody perennials before they get really rooted and hard to pull.  Luckily, next week begins the late May planting lull, so I should have time to catch up in the areas I got behind on this week while playing catch up from the weather.

Our chicken waterer is a POOP-free treat for pampered backyard hens.

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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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Wow, things are sure looking green at your place! I am glad to see your tomatoes are in the geound, because I took a big chance and planted mine too. So far, so good, though our last frost date is still a couple weeks a way.
Comment by Deb Sun May 19 01:52:31 2013

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