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Dale's - Three Day Garden  RSS feed

 
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Awesome potato harvest.

These potatoes occupied 12 sq ft of ground space and with branch droop, about 18 sq ft of total space. We got 35 lb of potatoes. That's 2 pounds per sq ft.
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Dale Hodgins
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The potatoes at the original garden behind the house are doing well. These ones are no till. The area was covered in thick grass in May. Despite the late start, they are doing great. All grass is dead. The cardboard over mulch method, smothered everything. Black plastic was used in the first two weeks. The bottom mulch is grass clippings. A thick layer of hedge clippings forms a dry top layer that blocks light.

Ever bearing strawberries are in their fourth month of production. We get about one berry per 2 sq ft every second day. Over a six month harvest, that's a lot of berries. When I was a kid, strawberries were strictly a late spring crop. Commercial producers still seem to go for the single big harvest. My berries are nothing like the watery sacks of nothing that pass for strawberries at the grocery stores.
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Dale Hodgins
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These beans have been really productive.

Tomatoes do well in pots in the garden near the ocean. Cool winds stunt heat loving plants. Next year, heat lovers will be planted in the hotter garden that is 2 miles from the ocean. The cool one is great for lettuce, chard, beets and all of the brassica family. Pumpkins and melons have done poorly. Lots of leaf, small fruit.

Thong choose to plant inappropriate crops. In the spring, she insisted that since both gardens are in the same city, both are equally suited to all crops. She has seen the light. A year ago, she couldn't believe that any Fulong (white guy) could have any gardening knowledge greater than her own. Now, she's willing to let me make big choices concerning micro climate and space allocation. Space hogs like pumpkins, squash, potatoes and melons will be grown at my farm. High value items which require regular attention, will be grown in the appropriate city garden for the plant's heat and light requirements. I win !!! Thong wins too. She has made a part time job of growing this year. Next year, I expect that she will double that income, by concentrating on high value stuff that is grown in the right spot. She sold $50 worth of Thai basil to a Thai restaurant last week and will do it again this week. The little greenhouse for basil, occupies only 12 sq ft. I'll also be paying her to sell farm products.

We've agreed to not plant another thing that forms a head. All heading lettuces and cabbage have failed utterly. Those that weren't consumed by slugs, rotted. Over watering and over crowding were contributing factors.
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Location: Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada
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Hi Dale:

Good for you for hanging in with Thong with your community garden. What happened to Mike? Did he come back on board? Over here on Pender Island (about 30 km or so as the seagull flies from Dale's city grade, likely 80 km or so from his farm) we have had very different results at our relocated community garden from prior years. We are on much richer soil than at the old location, available sheep manure and better draining and so an earlier start in the season. My immediate neighbour did vey well with heading cabbages and even harvested some with a straight cut and then quartered the base leading to four little mini cabbages growing. I thing generally bush beans have fared better than pole beans too. All in all a very impressive result for 24 plots in their first year. Diversity reigns! The Jerusalem artichokes are a bit late, and potato harvest only mediocre--I think you did a lot better with your red ones.

What have you or Thong got going for the winter? I'll likely plant out garlic and a green manure and maybe some more broad beans--the dwarfing red flowered ones I picked up a couple of years ago at the seed savers meeting in Victoria--originally I only received 6 seeds, now I have a jar full and I've given many to others too.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Garlic and broad beans are good. Kale is also good. Thong doesn't plan very well. When it's time to plant winter stuff, she may not be willing to give up the space that is occupied by something that has failed. This unwillingness to accept losses and move on is common.

Mike is back in a small way. He had other interests. He drives and pushes the wheelbarrow. He's done with taking abuse.
 
Dale Hodgins
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My brother Jeff, who is visiting and working in BC, asked if I'd like to have some shallots. I said, yes. He brought a garbage bag filled with thousands of bulbs with some garlic mixed in. Every spare inch is now planted in them.

We're near the end of the second year with the gardens. This experience has led me to conclude that it is possible to go from being a net consumer of food to a net producer in a single season. Furthermore, in my climate, I estimate that given a suitable patch of ground, any reasonably intelligent, physically fit person should be able to produce most of the fruit and vegetables for a family of four if they spend three work weeks per year on that endeavour. I called it the three day garden, since that's how long it took me to get it started. Once established, I think three weeks is a more realistic guesstimate. This is the figure I now cite whenever someone complains about the price of food or lack of access to good quality produce.

Photos later.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:This experience has led me to conclude that it is possible to go from being a net consumer of food to a net producer in a single season.


With how much existing knowledge and experience?
 
Dale Hodgins
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If you spend half an hour learning the required care for each type of plant and actually follow the recommendations, that should do it. More knowledge can be added as time allows. The most important knowledge is realizing that you can do it. Then you need to be able to find a shovel.

-------------------------
Accepting losses. One of my major challenges has been in dealing with someone who will not accept defeat when it becomes obvious that a cherished crop is not suitable for this climate. Various vining plants from South East Asia were allowed to cover everything. All survived but none thrived. None produced a useful mature crop. On Tuesday, we ripped out huge mats of immature squash that are flowering now, near the end of the season. Thong filled a little basket with flowers and golf ball sized melons and tried to make me believe that there had been some measure of success. I didn't buy any of it. I pointed out the stunted cabbages, chard, tomatoes, potatoes and strawberries that spent the summer buried under useless vines. Then I explained again, the concept of negative value. These plants didn't give us a small amount of yield. They cost us a lot of potential yield from the crops that are suited to our climate. All of these other plants produced very well in the areas not covered in vines.

She has agreed to abandon the poor performers and to limit trials of other exotics to a small area next year. One failed melon covers a fence 30 feet long and 7 feet high.(see photo) That's a big waste of time and garden space on a long shot gamble.
 
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She'd probably need a greenhouse for her exotics to thrive. Not necessarily heated.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thai basil occupies greenhouse space totalling 12 sq ft of ground with 3 tiers of shelving. A Thai restaurant bought $50 of it from one cutting. A week later it was ready to cut again. There's a winner.

These shallots are growing quickly. They are 16 days old in the photo.
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Dale Hodgins
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We've had some vandalism.

Some idiots kicked through the fence, walked on the shallots and slashed both greenhouses. Thong is now afraid to go back on her own. I'm pretty sure that they were looking for dope. Several other greenhouses were entered and no vegetables were taken.
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Dale Hodgins
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The no till potatoes did a great job of killing the grass.

Here's the link http://www.permies.com/t/40424/mulch/Dale-potatoes
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Dale Hodgins
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The peppers set so many fruits that a couple plants broke off. They were close to ripe, and were finished in the warmth of Thong's car. When plants are done, the leaves are stripped and either dried or used fresh or cooked in a number of concoctions.

The little greenhouses continue to produce. They are managed at 100% humidity and get up to 120 degrees. The stuff thrived in those conditions.
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Dale Hodgins
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The roaming squash that I judged as a failure has proved to be useful. Although the squash don't mature, vine growth is vigorous. The tips of vines are very tender, and are eaten steamed like chard. The end foot or so is picked and it's ready to go again in a week. There are hundreds of tips.

Thong's friend is holding a tiny portion of the day's harvest. This is the fastest growing salad green I've seen. After I suggested marketing the tips, Thong became emboldened, declaring that all of the over watering and fertilization was not in vain. " See, see, see, I tell you but Fulong never listen".

This is the best squash I've ever tried. The walls are thick and the skin is edible. I don't know the name. Thong has saved the seeds for over a decade.
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Dale Hodgins wrote:This is the best squash I've ever tried. The walls are thick and the skin is edible. I don't know the name

Dale, your photo looks like a slightly underripe jap pumpkin.
They are known for sweet, dry flesh, edible skins, and great storage.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Thanks Leila. I will make seeds available in the future.

The old potato patch has been planted in shallots and kale for the winter. I decided to plant all composting piles as well. About 400 lb of coffee grounds went on 100 sq ft of bed.
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Dale Hodgins
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I processed a huge pile of tangled vines and stems using the hedge cutter at the larger garden. It took 20 minutes.

Read all about it.
http://www.permies.com/t/40664/mulch/Dale-Compost-Cutter-processed-lb#316616
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This thread is intense! The intensity of plantings and productivity in such a short time blows my mind, inspires me, and makes me rather depressed about how little we've got growing at our place... We've been here two years (albeit with a hard pregnancy and then colicky baby for most of that time), and we've got one blueberry hugel, one small garden bed, and some plantings around our young fruit trees, with very little that actually grew. Hopefully next year, with more experience and knowledge, we'll get closer to your level of productivity!
 
Dale Hodgins
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There's nothing to be depressed about. :) I'm living proof that you can go from consumer of bought food to small market gardener, in a matter of months.

The strawberries have finally stopped flowering. They'll ripen until frost comes in November or December. I picked the last eggplants today. Large areas are covered in volunteer kale, mustard greens and lettuce. No need to plan for cover crops. I will add more mulch, to absorb the erosive power of winter rain.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The big bag of shallots that my brother Jeff brought, contained some unknown bulbs. Some were garlic, and there are lots of leeks.

This is a small portion of the onion harvest.

I removed some tomatoes, in order to make room for winter crops. There's a lot more, that will be taken up and hung in the greenhouse to ripen.
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Dale Hodgins
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Deer--- The garden at the farm has shown that some crops are not bothered at all by deer, while others are completely destroyed by them.

Here's a list of crops that they didn't touch. --- Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions, rhubarb, and beans. The beans were a surprise.

Here's the list of things that deer and/or rabbits destroyed. All members of the cabbage family, lettuce, chard, strawberries and peas. I only planted a little bit of these things, since I was pretty sure that it was a waste of time. I didn't get to eat one bite of these crops. Every morsel was consumed by wildlife.

My results were quite conclusive. They didn't take a bite here and there. They either ate things right down to the roots or they didn't bother with that type of plant at all. There is no shortage of wild food in my wilderness location. Certain crops are preferred over natural browse, while others are not to their taste. This test clearly indicates that some stuff must be fenced, while other stuff can be planted anywhere. I'm glad that the critters were so clear on their likes and dislikes. For now, the farm will only be planted in things that are distasteful to these pests.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The season has come to a frosty end for most crops. Only kale, chard, mustard greens and celery will give much through the winter. Even with these, it's mostly cold storage. Growth is very slow.

This is the perfect time to plan for next year. A few changes need to be made.

1. No vines crawling on the ground.
2. Better spacing for the leafy stuff. It's better to harvest three giant leaves compared to 30 little ones. Too much labor.
3. Potatoes only at the farm site. Not bothered by deer and the town space can grow high value stuff.
4. No hot weather vegetables at the Moss St. garden. Cool ocean breezes.
5. Earlier start in greenhouse. No vines. They took over.
6. Completely eliminate composting areas in both city gardens. Sheet mulching has worked better.
7. More mulching with hedge clippings.
8. Grow nothing with a head except Brussels sprouts. All others failed, while leaf lettuce and brassicas did great.
9. No daily care or harvest items at the Saanich location. Two miles is much too far. The other one is a quarter mile jaunt.

This list will grow.
-------------------------------
I cleaned up pretty well and covered the soil with leaves. About 300 lb more leaves were added after this photo was taken.

The greenhouse was an absolute mess. Once cold weather arrived, Thong abandoned everything. I cleaned it out.

This celery barely noticed the freezing cold.
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Fantastic thread, thanks for posting! It's amazing what you've done in a small space, puts me to shame! I've got an allotment, but have struggled with the weeds the last couple of years, spent most of last year weeding rather than growing. Was interested in how you're using the coffee grounds, and how you make your compost piles - just piling it up and covering with plastic. Definetly, going to try that.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Fiona Martin wrote:Fantastic thread, thanks for posting! It's amazing what you've done in a small space, puts me to shame! I've got an allotment, but have struggled with the weeds the last couple of years, spent most of last year weeding rather than growing. Was interested in how you're using the coffee grounds, and how you make your compost piles - just piling it up and covering with plastic. Definetly, going to try that.



Thanks Fiona. The coffee is spread on the ground. Worms and bugs do the rest. Most of my composting is sheet composting in rows or on paths. No space is allotted to composting during the growing season, except for mounds that are planted.

The winter compost piles consist of all end of season debris, with coffee mixed in. No turning or any other activity until it is used as mulch in the spring.
 
Fiona Martin
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Thanks Dale. I've been having a bit of a brain storm for sourcing organic material for either direct mulching or composting. My big problem has always been sourcing enough to make a difference. So far this week I have managed to agree with work that I can take the kitchen waste home, this equates to 3 small bags a week - about 1 buckets worth of coffee and tea waste. I've arranged with the local pet shop to take the spoiled sawdust/bedding from rabbits etc, this should be 1 bags worth a week. And today I've managed to gather three bags of leaves, they've already started to break down a bit. I figure if I can collect what I can, little bits every week it will all add up.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The best way to get a steady stream of organic materials, is to develop a part time job that produces waste that needs to be disposed of. Alternatively,you could find a landscaper or someone else who produces lots of organic waste. They need to get rid of it.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I haven't planted anything this year. I did plants some garlic last fall at the farm and it did well.

 I turned both city gardens over to Thong,  since I knew I would not have time. Both are still in production.

I've increased my wild harvesting.  Although it's not available all of the time, production per hour spent is much greater.
............
 I have thus reduced my responsibilities in the city of Victoria and I expect to do most of my gardening at my farm near Nanaimo. This has been the driest year that I can remember,  so I'm glad that I wasted no time getting things in the ground at the farm.
 
Peter Paulson
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Good for you prioritising Dale, but your garden posts were very interesting and are missed, for what it's worth. Lobby the Canadia government for extra hours in the day, and the problem will be sorted. I propose you name it Dale-light Savings Time.
 
Dale Hodgins
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They won't even create a Gulag for me to run,so I doubt that a more complex issue like this will be tackled.☺
............
From the start, this was meant to be a test for me and a more permanent hobby and job for Thong. Even without my help, Victoria is producing a little more poison free food than before.

The greatest success was on the marketing side. My pop up markets and home delivery tests, showed me that I can sell vast quantities. This is where so many fail. We have the right combination of climate and educated, affluent customer base to make it work. None of last year's customers had complaints about pricing. Most don't care about a few bug bites, and almost all seek out food that hasn't been sprayed.

I'm sure that there will be those who can't afford to buy from me or Thong in the future. I invite them to seek out one of the many abandoned gardens, and get some exercise. I do know a few people who regularly express the opinion that food is generally too expensive. They produce none of their own. I have offered to help a few get started, but they aren't willing to do the work. I only suggest this to those who are unemployed or underemployed or on a pension, and healthy enough to get it done... I could write a book on this issue, but use your imagination.

If things go as planned, I will plant a couple thousand square feet of hugle beds at the farm next spring.
 
Julia Winter
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Yes, it's funny how easily people will complain about things they know nothing about.
 
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I realize this is an old thread and just wanted to thank Dale for sharing a project that made me laugh.  Your broad tolerance and humor for cultural differences is quite astounding.  You are a true pioneer branching out in not only gardening but contributing to community and cross cultural pollination.

I had Polish neighbors who introduced me to mache 20 years ago and neighbors from Macedonia who introduced me to Kecelets  (spelling might be incorrect)  which is cross between spinach and leaf lettuce with a slightly sour/sweet taste that is to die for !   This whole experiment in neighborhood small gardens has lead me on a wonderful journey of seed sharing around the world.  

So thanks for sharing your experience and your project.  And if the kind of behavior you exhibited makes you greedy and ambitious as a form of labeling. You be as greedy and ambitious as you want to.  The world needs more people like you.  

Warm Regards and happy growing
G.
 
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I miss Dale.
 
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