When we moved to Happy Acres back in 2007, I couldn’t wait to work up a spot for a vegetable garden. Due to the heavy deer presence, it had to be fenced. The area is about 40 feet by 45 feet, which I have divided into 10 beds. We can grow a lot of food in there, enough for me and my wife and some to share with others. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of time and effort to manage a space that big.
I always knew as I got older I would eventually cut back on the amount I planted, and that day has finally come. I’m having a hard time keeping up with the demands of the large garden. Partly it’s because I have other interests, and partly it’s because I don’t have the energy I used to have. Whatever the reasons, I have decided to reduce the size of what I plant next year by at least 20%. My wife sort of rolled her eyes when I first told her this, since she has heard me say it before. I managed to convince her that this time I meant it. I seem to be working in the garden more and enjoying it less, and I have no one to blame but myself. I can idle two of the ten beds, and plant them in green manure cover crops like buckwheat, oilseed radish and oats.
Yesterday I got the last of the summer vegetables planted. I tilled, hilled up a 45 foot long ridge about 10 inches high, then planted 34 sweet potato plants I had potted up in 3.5 inch pots. I started most of the slips myself, though I bought a couple of varieties to trial here this year. All that took me about two hours. That’s typically how much time I spend in the garden each day this time of year, at least until everything is planted, weeded and mulched.
I still have quite a bit of mulching left to do. My mulch of choice is straw over newspaper or cardboard. I use cardboard to cover the bigger areas, and paper to go around the smaller spots. I also use shredded paper around many of the plants. All that mulch eventually breaks down into organic material for the garden, and that has helped keep the content of organic matter in the soil in the 7% to 8% range according to soil tests. I also add quite a bit of homemade compost to the soil at planting time. I hope to get the rest of the mulching done in the next few days.
And that will be just in time to start seeds for a fall garden! Actually, I already have seeds started for collard greens and some of the sprouting broccoli. I will start the rest of the brassicas after the first of July. I’ve already scaled back the plans for the fall garden, and hopefully that will leave me more enthusiastic about gardening than I am right at the moment. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres.