Sunday, June 14, 2009

June Harvest

Here it is...radishes and cilantro. Beautiful, fresh produce from my veggie garden.

Several years back I became bored with my flower gardens, so I decided to reclaim an old patch on which the former owner had grown his vegetables. I tried a method used by the founder of Practical Farmers of Iowa, Richard Thompson. My crop was planted on top of a ridge pushed up to make the row, ie, ridge tilling. That fall I planted a green mulch of rye and it took forever to decompose and tied up all the nitrogen that next spring, so my veggies suffered that season. Then I decided that the 'tried-and-true' would be good enough and I just planted straight rows with string and stick. I oriented the rows north and south so they received max. sunlite. That worked pretty well, but I felt like I was compacting the soil every time I walked down the rows.

One early morning when Dewey and I were on our walk, I ventured down an alley in an old neighborhood and found the most beautiful garden hidden on the other side of a hedge/fence. It was a 4-square with beautifully laid brick walks. The beds held both veggies and perennial plants and my passion for gardening was re-united with that one serendipitous find!

That summer I searched hi and lo for old paving bricks, an old garden gate, and rusty woven, scalloped top fence (the owner of Cyclone Fence became a good friend that summer! ;} I hauled sand/pea gravel from the local quarry in 5-gal. buckets. By the end of July, I laid out a 4-square garden with beds 4x4 so I could reach into them from all sides. Two-foot deep beds surrounded the perimeter of the fenced garden so cukes, peas, and flowering vines could grow up the old-fashioned fence. Needless to say, I haven't changed my garden for three years now. It works great. Spending that summer concentrating on veggie garden surprisingly renewed my passion for my flower gardens, altho I do get more excited planted, weeding, and then harvesting those scrumptious veggies.

I think tonight I'll make fajitas - grilled sirloin, sliced avocado, and fresh cilantro from the garden.

Working on the Egralharve project, I noticed a unique wetland plant growing along the edge of the mineral spring. The plants expert at Lakeside Lab thought it a rare carex, but unsure of the particular type. A friend recently suggested a plant site for Missouri, and Bingo! I was able to identify it.

Carex lurida is "found in fens, a rare praire bottomlands plant."The photo on the right is the one I took at the Egralharve mineral spring site; on the left, the one off the internet. The water in both these photos is tinged with iron precipitates flowing up from the depths; this rare wetland plant is an obligate species, dependent on the minerals in that water for its survival. What a find! Thanks, MO Grower.

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