Saturday, August 2, 2008

Gardening... WWCD?

I loooove my garden this year. I have sixteen tomato plants, two zucchini (actually three if you count the volunteer on the compost pile), five potato, miscellaneous herbs, cabbage that I don't think is going to do anything, and an apartment-dwelling friend planted 100 square feet of beans in our yard. Looking at all this STUFF (and looking at the food dehydrator and pressure cooker I got for my birthday), I am getting SO many ideas for next year!
Definitely beans again, planted in my tomato patch behind the house, and corn and squash in all that lovely nitrogen-fixed soil where the beans are. I'm hoping, under Carey's instruction, to can a lot of tomatoes, and I'm already drying plenty of herbs and lambs-quarter. The mint is getting WELL established.
I've seen "What Would MacGuyver Do?" t-shirts, with pictures of duct tape and Swiss Army knives and whatnot, and I think I need one. The funny thing is, when I'm debating where to put something, or reading the back of a seed packet that says this plant should have been in the ground months ago (my dwarf sunflowers, for example), the first thought in my mind is typically, "Well, what would Carey do?"
My friend and current mentor of sorts, Carey, describes herself as a chaos gardener. Whatever wants to grow, whereever, however. And for her, it works! Her whole yard is her garden, basically, and it rocks. My dwarf sunflowers, planted a good month late, will probably have flowers before the growing season is TOTALLY over. I've had pretty good success this year just by experimenting, planting one item in various locations to see what happens (known as unschooling), and have discovered that what the back of the seed packet says, is not always so.
Square-foot gardening, for example. Square-foot gardening (to really dummy it down) is cramming a whole bunch of plants in a square foot instead of rows. The theory is, and it appears to hold true, that what little production you may lose per plant because of crowding, is much more than made up for in how many more plants you have. So you don't HAVE to space them far out in rows - you can just throw stuff in what space you have tilled, and it will probably work. My tomato plants are only about 18" apart from each other, and they're doing well. Bill, who planted the beans, actually calculated that we should get about 3-4 times the production per square foot as you would get from a bean field planted the standard way.
So now that I've spent this summer asking, "What would Carey do?" I am SO jazzed about next year, putting into practice what I've learned - and not being afraid to say, "I want a new bed here!", grabbing a shovel, and DOING IT.

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