Saturday, July 5, 2014

How to Grow Vegetables: Notes from Larry's Talk

Larry Kloze gave a talk at the garden on Monday evening, June 16, 2014.  This is a summary of some of the points of his tour and talk:

Raised beds provide additional root space for plants.

We utilize wide row, intensive planting; plants are close together so it’s difficult to see the soil, and therefore there are few weeds as the sun is blocked.

Kale, Swiss chard, and collards are planted in the spring and last though the summer.
Due to a very cold winter this year we anticipate far fewer bugs.

Succession Planting  (a kind of rotation planting) uses the same bed for several crops;  e.g. After a bed of lettuce is harvested beans are planted in the bed. After the beans are harvested beets are then planted.

Horse radish serves as a “catch crop” for bugs.
Bush beans require no support. Pole beans, which are equally prolific, don’t require you to bend over to pick them.

In our organic garden, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used. Plants need food and the mushroom compost helps replenish the plants.
The text, Crockett’s Victory Garden, describes mixing in new compost to renew nutrients when one crop is finished.
Mulch can be used in beds to both suppress weeds and retain moisture.
Triangulate planting takes up less space and maximizes the number of plants per bed.
Companion Planting – when two plants go well together and can be planted simultaneously; e.g. bushes under trees, or shallow rooted plants (tomatoes) with deep rooted plants (carrots) There is a text with the title Carrots Love Tomatoes.

Garden water Is provided by the city and we currently use dozens of connected hoses to access water from down the hill. As a result there is very low water pressure making it impossible to water the entire garden all at once.  To solve this problem the water timers are set to four different zones in the garden. It’s best to water at night. If there’s no rain we water every other day. One inch of water a week is sufficient for the crops. There is a simple measuring device in the garden to keep track of how much water the garden gets each week.

This year Swiss Chard was protected this year from leaf miters that tunnel into the leaves. This was done by covering the crop with a spun fabric, reemay, that still allows water, sun, and air to penetrate. This is in contrast to last year’s problem with cucumber beetles. This crop can’t be covered because it needs to pollinate – and the crop was lost.

There are two kinds of tomato plants, determinate and indeterminate. Determinate plants stop growing while indeterminate plants keep growing. This ever-growing kind of plant is typical of those producing big sandwich tomatoes.
You can freeze whole tomatoes in a plastic bag. You can freeze peppers after pulling the seeds out.  There’s no need to blanche these vegetables before freezing and they can be used for spaghetti sauce upon defrosting.

Tomatoes and peppers like acidic soil (low ph) and we augmented the soil with lyme when planting them this year. For high ph soil, add sulfur in the form of match tips.

Plant tomato plants on their side. Take off all but the uppermost leaves. Dig a trench. Pillow the soil for the leaves. Tomatoes sprout new roots from their stems and this process will increase the root area and produce more vigorous plants.

 It takes 6 feet of space for 3 watermelon plants in a bed vs. the very dense plantings that beets and beans thrive on – consequently yielding much more food per sq. ft.
Containment is an important concept, particularly in urban gardening (maximizing land use); e.g. have peas grow up on a fence in order to use less land. 

Cucumbers grown on the ground become yellow on the bottom side that lies on the dirt. This is not the case when they are grown on trellises.
To avoid the time consuming, pain staking process of thinning carrots, mix the seeds with rice or sand and then sprinkle the mixture to plant the crop.

In the past you could never make a BLT sandwich using the L & T from the garden as they are harvested at different times. This year the heat tolerant lettuce should make this a possibility.

The composter is the “heart of the garden” and needs to be cared for as you would a pet. You “work” the compost; it needs to be turned in order to aerate it, chopped, and watered. It is a habitat for micro-organisms. No oil products should be added to the compost - they keep the material from breathing. Don’t let weeds go to seed before adding them to compost. Otherwise a temperature of 160 degrees F. should kill the weed seeds.

Peas won’t survive into summer as they are a cool crop vegetable. Cucumbers will be planted in the pea bed after the peas are harvested and the trellis used again for the cucumbers.

Beets are a wonderful crop to interplant as they have shallow roots and grow low. They also are heat tolerant and grow all summer.
 Pyrethrum and diatomaceous earth, organic products, are being used on the eggplants to battle bugs. (Thank you Robin!)

 Last year’s zucchini crop was destroyed by vine borers. One solution is to slit the stem and remove the borer.

 Zucchini, okra, and cucumbers may grow so fast as to warrant a mid week harvest.

 The Perennial Garden:
When you cultivate perennials in a regular vegetable garden, you risk disturbing the perennial plants when planting annual crops. Therefore the garden has designated separate beds for perennials.
 Asparagus take three years to establish but live 50-60 years.
Rhubarb leaves are POISONOUS.  Just eat the stems.

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