This spring things started off looking pretty good, despite our miserable soil. Peas started off well - then fizzled out entirely, having produced about one cup of unshelled peas, far less than the quantity we planted. Plants yellowed (nitrogen fixers apparently not getting enough nitrogen, and no, I had not innoculated. Lesson learned)
New Zealand spinach never actually got started. Swiss Chard started fast and then disappeared entirely. Beets likewise started well, then almost entirely disappeared. Spinach never started. Kale (which other people seem to have trouble getting rid of ) is not performing. Melons started, then got chomped off, for the most part, by something. Some of the squash went the same way as the melons. Tomatoes are doing ok. Leeks never got started. Potatoes were going great guns, and then something (chipmunk or groundhog likely suspects) chomped a bunch of them off under their mulch.
So, some predictable frustrations (my soil is terrible, no wonder things do not thrive), and some surprises (darn rodents!).
Oh yeah, lost two out of three chickens to something
But the volunteer squash (look to be round zucchini) growing in the compost heap are doing great. Next year's plan - expand the compost heap and PLAN on planting into it directly. Use the pallets that make the box frame to give planting zones. Has to be better than our straight sand
another good thing to keep in mind next year, plan for a lot of your stuff to fail, plant ten times more than you want to eventually have.
you can always thin out plants later, having too much of something can mean some early harvests (thin by eating), some chop and drop, or in the event plants come in too thickly and close together you can also transplant some to better locations that didnt take off. this is a good method for me, but often i find that overplanting something means i end up with just enough, even trying to go extremely overboard with the seeds/starts i dont often have to thin because theres too much of something.
extra note on your peas and onions, beets, as well as the kale- these probably didnt appreciate the heat of the mid summer. i dont know what its like in your climate, but all of these are cool season veggies and tend to prefer cooler temps, the kale might take off in the cool fall into winter. you probably want to plant those in a different time period, they dont always work as well for early spring planting. i plant those out sometimes now ish or later, in fall.
Your soil seems a good candidate for hugelkultur. Whether it is too heavy with clay, too wet, too dry or too rocky or sandy, you're likely to see better results. It's basically a large wood based compost heap.
Location: Fennville MI
posted 4 years ago
Leila, while not obvious from my post, the cool weather plants went in early and started out, at least some of them, looking pretty good. The Swiss chard, for example, had good germination and was a nice little forest over the area where it was planted - and then one day it was gone, having never gone much beyond initial seedling stage - but it germinated like mad - unlike some of the other plantings.
I planted heavily on several things, far more than we would have needed - for example, the peas - easily over a hundred plants. Mostly I do blame our sand. No nutritional value and no water holding. Trying like the dickens to get organic matter incorporated, but experience has suggested that most amendments simply wash away through the sand. Which is why the present approach is much more surface oriented, trying to build up soil through mulch on top of the sand, not trying to turn amendments in.
But this is very early in the project and the results are not yet impressive.
Location: Fennville MI
posted 4 years ago
Three and a fraction new hugelbeds went in this year. One I started last year got extended. Last year the melons went in over buried wood and were the best growing plants we had. Circumstances kept us from using that area this year, but we do have a squash square around a compost pit, inspired by banana circles.
Mostly I am venting some disappointment to a sympathetic audience. Partly I want to point out that some of the things we are learning, doing and talking about are long haul solutions for a long term result, but are not necessarily quick fixes.
I will not be on this property long term (found permaculture too late. The twenty plus years I have lived here could have made a real change), so everything I am doing is a learning exercise for me that will probably never see its potential achieved.
I know it feels! I've had the same struggles over the past 3 years. I'm just beginning...slowly...to get some production from my garden. Having started with depleted soil that was loaded with chemical fertilizers and pesticides...no worms at all that I could find or detect...no frogs...no spiders...no nothing...it has been a slow process of bring the life back. Don't get disheartened. Keep at it and it will turn around. The spiders and frogs are back...there are worms though not as many as I'd like to see...but, overall, life is returning. It may take you a year or two to get things working but it will happen if you press on...
http://notquitethereyethomestead.blogspot.com/ --On the highway going from here to there the question is oft asked "are we there yet". The oft given answer is "not quite yet". So it goes with life and with my little piece of it. This is my story. I get to tell it my way. I hope you enjoy it.
I'm in the same boat...detailed elsewhere, I've lost about 75% of all new plantings (including seeds sown in situ, transplants raised from seed, and bought seedlings). Mostly due to a freak plague of slugs, but also to a dramatic rise in pH in one large bed thanks to the neighbor's new concretefence (though probably the slugs would have demolished this bed too, given the chance). I realized that I've been putting all my eggs in one basket--relying on annual crops for vegetables--and it really only took one thing to wipe everything out.
It really is about building resilience: in soil, in perennials, in water, in animals, in biodiversity for predators and pollinators. And also about learning to approach problems creatively, and about learning from failure. I failed big time this year, and my corresponding lesson is just as valuable! I'm working on becoming more resilient for the future.
We not only did we lose a chicken this year, but spent 200 euros trying to get decent professional advice and meds. Even putting it down cost us 40 euros. Consider yourself lucky on that point!
Are you using good seed? We changed seed providers when we saw that things were just not germinating or producing well.
I have NEVER been able to get the so-called New Zealand perennial spinach to grow. Not once with all the seeds I bought. I finally gave up and started growing Chenopodium (Good King Henry/Magenta Spreen) which now gets 1-2 meters tall, has lots of leaves, and seeds readily.
As for pests this year we were visited by rats, birds, and 2 versions of planthoppers, not to mention the plague of aphids that wiped out a good portion of the fava production.
Brassicas are a big no-no for us right now, which I feel is an indicator of sucky soil. Leeks don't preform great here either. I wouldn't even bother with melons, even if the organic farmer down the road is growing them by the hundreds.
Plus expenses keep us from doing any major interventions. Kinda stuck as well.
I'll offer you the same advice I give myself. Keep trudging along.