Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Building My Vegetable Garden

Today seems to be a good day to stay inside and catch up on my garden blog. It's smoky outside again. The Basin Fire, which burned nearly 163,000 acres, drove me inside on many days this summer. It's been contained since July 28th. Now, there's another fire - the Chalk Fire has burned about 4,000 acres since Saturday and is only 8% contained. The smoke is drifting my way today. The picture below was taken July 2. Fire breaks for the Basin Fire were being burned about 8 miles away as the crow flies. That day the smoke was drifting away from here. Other days it came this way and a few times it was so thick that you couldn't see the ridges in the foreground - that's less than a mile away.

Today isn't really all that bad, but I can smell it and see it and I don't want to be taking big deep lungfuls of it.

I finally got around to creating a space for my vegetable garden and have been busy with it ever since. Below is the site on May 22 with most of the grading done.

Here's what the space looked like on May 30th, along with the reason for the high fence surrounding it. Not a lot of vegetables yet! Actually, I had tomatoes growing in 1-gallon pots and peppers in 4-inch pots all ready to go into the ground. The enclosed area is approximately 20 by 50 feet. There are four mounds of soil, about 6 by 20 feet each.

By July 2 there was more progress. I used scrap wood from a dog run that had been in about the same area to bound in some of the beds. Wood chips were put down over cardboard in the main path way. Tomatoes, peppers and squash had been planted. What looks like clouds on the horizon is smoke from the Basin Fire.

The beds run basically north/south. The view above is looking south. I've got three valves for the drip system, one each for the east beds, west beds, and the slope below the garden. The space is slightly terraced into the hillside. There was only about 4 inches of topsoil in this area and it was all scraped aside when the terraces were created so I had the landscaper bring in a garden soil mix for the beds. What I didn't realize at first is that the soil mix has basically no nutrients! I figured that out rather quickly though when the zucchini wouldn't grow. I've had to do weekly feedings with liquid fertilizers for most of the veggies. Since then I've been digging in good things like humic acid, crab meal, alfalfa, sulfate of potash, compost and a slow release organic fertilizer called Sustane. So here's what the garden looked like this morning.

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