Vegetable Garden Week 5

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This was here when we moved in.

I can’t believe it’s been 5 weeks since I started my garden project. It’s actually been 6 weeks, but you’ll get week 6’s update on Monday. I’m falling behind on my updates already!

By now I thought the cardboard would have been assimilated into the soil. I keep standing out there calling the worms. “Come and get it, worms!” But if they’re coming, I can’t tell. I suspect I may have gone about this whole thing all wrong, but I keep looking to my husband, who has two green thumbs, for approval, and he keeps not disapproving, so either he’s humoring me and trying to make me feel good about it, or he really thinks I’m onto something here.

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Garbage bowl

Something I’m trying to help enrich the soil is trench composting, which means you dig a trench between your garden rows (in my case there aren’t rows, exactly, because of the cardboard), fill them with compostable materials, and then cover them back up. For the last two weeks I have collected cucumber peels and strawberry stems and onion skins and banana peels – all vegetable trimmings – in a big bowl. I cover it with a kitchen towel to protect it from flies and to protect ME from the smell. When the bowl gets full, I have my husband dig a trench, dump the bowl’s contents in, and cover it over.

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Last night I had my 8-year-old son do it. He loved this project. I loved not doing it myself.

I also plan to do something about the cardboard, and break up the now-dried horse manure and work it into the soil, both to incorporate in a little bit better, and also to make it so that my pictures of my garden do not show giant balls of dried horse poop. Nobody’s going to want a salad from this garden if they see these pictures!

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Either way, the fava beans have me worried. Four of the plants’ leaves seem too yellow, and two of them are doing okay but they are flowering so much I wonder if that is too soon. They are supposed to get much taller before they flower and fruit. Today I will feed the yellowing plants with a nitrogen based fertilizer. Next week I am going to get stakes and tie them all to the stakes to support their upward growth.

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The kale seems to be doing just fine. I thought the plants would grow faster, but what do I know? I can read books and study up on the internet, but nothing teaches me more like trial and error. If this turns out to be a big fail, so what? At least maybe the soil will be ready for next season.

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Rosemary. Just plugging along, not getting any bigger, not dying. No news is good news?

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Behold, a paperwhite or narcissus plant. I thought it would be daffodils. Who knew?

 

Vegetable Garden: Week 4

IMG_1786This is where anyone who comes to this site regularly is saying “You’re kidding. Not another vegetable garden post. Doesn’t anything else happen in Agoura Hills?”

Well of course, silly. There’s a lot going on up in this joint, but I’m obsessed with my vegetable garden, so that’s that.

Week 4:

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The fava beans are okay – two of the plants have flowers and the rest have yellowing leaves. They are all getting taller. I am wondering if I need to pinch the flowers off to encourage the plant to grow bigger so the beans will fruit when they are supposed to. And maybe I need to fertilize the yellowing plants.

The kale is getting taller. The change is hard to see. The mystery bulbs are getting taller too.

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And the rosemary bush is just sitting there, looking fine, but not getting any bigger.

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Meanwhile, I’ve been reading about vegetable gardening in a book and online. I discovered that you can luck out and get free seeds, seedlings, or cuttings from people on Craigslist and Freecycle, so I found a lady who was giving away cuttings from a passion fruit vine, and now I have four jars of cuttings on my kitchen counter. If they grow roots, I’ll plant them…somewhere.

Vegetable Garden Week 3

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Since I planted my little garden on a Thursday, I have been spending more time looking at it on Thursdays than any other day. I’m a creature of habit. Now it is Tuesday, so I’ll write what I remember from last week.

So yes, I went to get a bag of horse poop. With my kids in the car. I laid a plastic sheet across the floor of the trunk and took everything else out. I was prepared for our ride home to be quite stinky.

The farm where I went to get the poop was in the hills south of the freeway in Thousand Oaks. The farmhands were cleaning up a horse paddock, and I had gotten there a few minutes early, so I stood there awkwardly in the horsey smelling parking area hoping to get their attention. One of them finally looked up and I said “Sorry, I’m early. I just want one bag.”

So the farmhand closest to me looked at the one near the barn and without speaking at all he gathered up the bag he was filling and brought it to my trunk. My kids watched from inside the air-conditioned car.

That was it, then.

“Thanks,” I waved, and then we left. With 40 pounds of horse poop, something that I usually try to avoid.

Surprisingly, I could never smell it. We went straight home and Kyle helped me lug the back to the garden area. He held the bag with one hand and plugged his nose with the other, because he hasn’t yet learned how to block his sense of smell. I wonder how old you have to be to figure that one out?

In the morning, my husband mixed the horse manure with topsoil and spread it out over the cardboard area and watered it. The cardboard hasn’t noticeably broken down yet. Come on, earthworms!

By Thursday, I swear I could detect the tiniest bit of growth. Certainly the bulbs I rescued from my planting area have sprouted, so if nothing else, I’m enriching our soil and I’ll see a bunch of pretty flowers behind the vegetable area!

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Sprouted mystery bulbs! I’m pretty sure they are daffodils.

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Fava beans. Don’t they seem just a tiny bit taller?

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Kale.

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Rosemary.

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What the heck. Let’s track the leaves on the birch trees that will eventually close us off from the back neighbor’s house.