Sunday, June 19, 2011

june 18, 2011: maintenance

June 18 marked the start of a transition in the garden. Most of the beds have been planted, but—other than radishes and herbs—nothing is ready for harvesting. The focus of our work shifts from establishing the garden to maintaining it.

Our small group worked steadily all morning. Some of us weeded. We have a minor problem in the dodecahedron bed with bindweed, a pernicious member of the Morning Glory family. Left unchecked, bindweed will wrap itself around the other plants in a bed, eventually killing them. It is particularly difficult to eradicate because of the deep root system that it establishes.

harvesting chamomile
While some struggled with bindweed, others watered. Susan led a group in harvesting chamomile flowers from the patches that sprung up in the back of the garden. We mowed down the taller grasses in the back using a weed whip. We trained pea tendrils along trellises. We replanted squash seeds and mulched beds with straw. We sifted compost taken from one of our larger bins and used it to mound our row of potato plants.

We did manage a small harvest of greens, herbs, flowers, and garlic and onion scapes. Our yield is still small enough to fit into a single bag strapped to the back of a bike.



When I lived in a small town in northern Benin as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I remember the period of a month or so in late spring, between the time when the last of the stored harvest of the prior year ran out and when the new harvests from the current year started to appear in the markets. It was a lean time of expensive canned food or buggy flour. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to subsist solely on the produce of our garden.

The last task in the garden was to remove a large branch from one of our plum trees. Our original motivation in pruning was to improve the health of the tree; however, we discovered that the removal of the branch allowed for more sunlight to reach some of the mounds in this year’s squash bed (20).

chamomile flowers