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

Second summer joys and trials

Cucumber bloom

We ate as much as we safely could of our first-year asparagus, have gorged on lettuce and broccoli and kale, and now it's time for the summer crops to begin. An ultra-early last frost means ultra-early cucumber blooms. We should be adding these crunchy fruits to our salads starting next week.

May harvest

On a broccoli side note --- lowish nitrogen in the soil meant our heads were smaller, but also faster, than usual. Interestingly, we've also seen very few cabbageworms so far this spring. The moths have been quite visible, but seem to prefer the flowering kale at the moment. Could that be because of the lower-nitrogen plants?

Late May garden

Lower cabbageworm pressure means I've been able to leave the broccoli plants in place for side shoots to form. (I usually pull them out after first spring heading because otherwise they become a bad-bug nursery.) The result? Possibly more total pounds of harvest than previously, definitely spread over a longer time span. Despite not planning to preserve excess food this year, I ended up packing away about a gallon of broccoli in the freezer.

Garden expansion

On a less pleasant note, our strawberry harvest looks like it will be nonexistent. The berries started, a bird found them, I put bird netting on top...and someone strong and vigorous (probably a squirrel) snuck underneath and worked through the patch like a tornado. Every strawberry of any size was removed, discards were strewn around the garden, and Mark is now working on a berry enclosure to ensure this won't happen again next year.

You win some and you lose some.

Filling worm bins

Speaking of winning --- wow, the manure! We're stocking up on truckloads of this precious resource, in part because it disappeared midsummer last year but also because the organic matter is full of wood shavings and needs some rotting before it will be putting off much nitrogen for our plants. Our worm bins quickly filled up, so now we're starting a manure pile in the yard.

New tomatoes

I'm also laying manure down on beds I don't plan to use in the next several weeks, the time expanded from my initial plan of the next month. Why? Because the tomatoes I set out into one-month-old manure beds turned yellow and required chicken-manure topdressing to save them. Luckily, they've now bounced back and are setting fruit.

Building a cattle panel arbor

In our second year, we're also starting to have a bit of time for prettiness, like this grape trellis Mark made out of a cattle panel and four fence posts.

Cattle panel arbor

A few weeks after erecting it, the 18-month-old grape vines are already starting to fill their space. One plant has even begun to bloom!

Prelude raspberry

What's coming up? This is a Prelude raspberry, a new-to-us variety that's supposed to ripen before any other brambles in the patch. It didn't bloom any earlier than my other varieties, but fruits are starting to plump and blush. If the birds don't get them, we might have a replacement to my demolished strawberries!

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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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Hi: Glad to see you writing for us here again! I have been doing a little 'occasional' blog and I just had my Dad's strawberry defense system in it. You might get a kick out of it. It really works! The scare tape seems to be doing the job so far, but.... We have plan B and plan C on the ready. Here is the link, and I do hope you will not think me pushy to list it:



Comment by Tim Inman Mon Jun 3 16:35:25 2019

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