|The first 4 Zlata radishes, |
these are yellow radishes.
You can however bring the technique a step farther : making an educated choice of plants that complete each other in different ways. The classic combo of carrots and radishes is one (radishes grow so fast compared to carrots that the carrots are just poking out when you harvest the radishes, resulting in a lot less weeding to do than if you had a space dedicated to carrots only).
But there's other combinations worthwhile mentionning like lettuce-carrots-leeks (or onions) : the carrot grows underground and its leaves barely gives any shadow, the leek grows straight and doesn't bother its neighbors, while the lettuce gives enough shadow to prevent weeds but doesn't impact the tall leaves of carrots and leeks. My experience wasn't a complete success however. I got barely 10 radishes. Carrots have been as finicky; I harvested between 15 et 20, but since I didn't pay attention to my clay soil, they came out somewhat small and deformed. I'm still kinda proud since this year, I grew 3 different varieties, 3 different colors. For the mustard... I've talked about it here. The lettuces, Komatsuna and Langue de cerf (Deer's Tongue) come from Solana and have been a resounding success all summer long, rewarding us with lots of delicious salads.
|3 varieties of tomatoes here: The traditional but good yellow pear,|
the White Currant and the P20 Blue Tomato.
Tomatoes were a success spread with failures here and there. The seedlings grew pretty well considering the lack of water under a lamp, a mistake I will not make next year. All in all, 4 plants survived the seedling stage, a quantity I judged sufficient at the time. But there was trouble : putting the seedlings in the garden. Too cold? Not enough water? I'm not exactly sure, but I came really close to losing the 4 plants. And in a moment of panic, I turned toward my favorite garden center (this site is in french) and I bought a tomato plant, one that's very popular and common, cherry yellow pears, something that's found pretty much everywhere. When my seedlings started to show color again, I ended up with a lot of tomatoes and actually a good range of different tomatoes. My 2 seedlings of White Currant managed really well, but in the garden, only one seedling of P20 Blue made fruits (The other one came so close to the brink, it only grew leaves). Me and my family, we love cherry tomatoes, that's pretty much the only kind we eat fresh, so it's not surprising that they take the biggest space in the garden. But next year, I promised myself I would try a fantastic variety of normal size, maybe for canning. The White Currant and P20 Blue came from Solana, like the lettuces mentionned above.
One thing to mention : the first year brought me fruits too (normally a raspberry plant only fruits on second year stalks), but they were acidic and not good. This year however, they're absolutely delicious! If I first had doubts about keeping the plant, I don't have any, anymore!
|I barely had the time to take a picture when a little hand grabbed|
the fruits, its owner ready to swallow all of the delicious fruits!
|Here's a sample of July's harvest : 4 gigantic turnips,|
a handful of golden raspberries, tomatoes, tomatoes
and more tomatoes!
Louise's Sidenote : Note here we are taking about true turnips, not swedish turnips -look at the picture. And by the way, the leaves and stalks of turnips, radishes and swedish turnips are edible, I'll talk about it in a future article.
|There must have been a problem|
with the polination of the Mini Boo :
Normally this squash is supposed to
be a bit bigger and white with green
Louise's Sidenote : It would be normal to harvest a very small quantity of squashes from a single vine. The standard would be of 2 or 3 squashes, even for farmers.
|Harvest 2011. All in all, for 5 plants, I collected 736g worth|
of delicious dried beans!
What about the failures?
|This naked obelisk in spring becomes a huge green mountain|
in summer. Years before, it was used for the Scarlett
Runner Beans. In 2011, it's a mystery vine
that grew there. I never knew what variety ;
the only benefit I got out of it was experience.
|Freya searches for a mouse that I placed|
back in the compost bin where it lives.
First, I found mice in my compost. It's when I noticed my youngest cat running like a maniac after something in the yard. When I got close, I not only noticed a small mouse (it wasn't harmed, but it might have made a heart attack, it wouldn't have surprised me!), and then I noticed through the compost bin's ventilation holes, not too far from where the cat and mouse drama was unfolding... tiny paws running around inside the bin. Lots of tiny paws! Not only that, but under the tool shed, not even a meter away from the bin, I found a lot of tiny mouse-size holes... and one much bigger hole. When I looked into the huge one, I saw two big eyes look back at me. Huh, that wasn't a mouse. But what was it? At the time I'm writing this article, I'm still not sure. I can venture my guess on a wild bunny ; there're some in a tiny forest, nearby, and this passed winter, I found some rabbit manure in my front yard. I never saw gophers around here and althought I did smell a skunk once in a while, its "fragrance" was never powerful enough to signal it was as close as to be in my backyard. This backyard is, by the way, well fenced since the previous occupants owned a dog. The last visitor we had was a raccoon that came around only once : it opened the compost bin, took its fill and went on its merry way. From now on, I do make sure my bin is secured but I do think my 3 cats also made an impression on him. At the very least, he made an impression on them.
Oh yes! One surprise I also found in the compost was a mushroom! I'm pretty sure it was a Button Mushroom, the standard variety we find in grocery stores, since I threw out some, some days before this event, but as mentionned in Louise's article if you don't know for sure, you do not touch it!
I also explored the interesting flora of my lawn. Red and white clover, dandelion and plantain were some of the plants I actually used this year (the clover and dandelion for herbal tea and the plantain to suit mosquito bites - it works!). But the other complete surprise was German Camomile. Considering this plant can sometimes be hard to grow, I was skeptical, but after making an herbal tea out of it, I have to admit it was, indeed, Camomile.
It's to say that nature is always ready to give a little help to curious gardeners... Keep your eyes open for the second part, Louise's Successes and Failures!