Monthly Archives: June 2012

Garden Season: At 100 degrees

Ann Arbor Food

Chard

Man. It has been a crazy hot year for gardening.

I got in late this year, but it worked out because I was able to get a two garden plots at the new Project Grow Gardens on Platt Rd.

This week’s Harvest will be kale, chard, collards, arugula, radish and basil. It will be my first official harvest of the season.

I am looking forward to green beans and spinach if it does not bolt.

Ann Arbor Food

Radish

Below is a close up of my garden set up. I tend to favor a simple design of slightly raise beds 2-3 feet wide. I plant in 1, 2,  or 3 rows per bed depending on the plants.

When planting seeds, I use chop sticks to mark my rows.

A basic rule is that a seed package will provide enough seed for a 1, 2, or 3 rows the length of one of my arms span for a good seeding.

For bigger plants like cabbage, broccoli, kale and tomatoes, I plant in two rows with each plant places off center from from the row over. (see the Kale pictures, which might be hard to see because they are now bushy.

Sometimes I use straw in my rows, but most of the time I don’t and hoe the weeds (It has been, so hot that I am a little behind as you can see.)

Row by Row: Turnip, Mustard, Arugula

For those who have read about my potato fiasco last year, I am back to the traditional method of digging a trench and hill up with dirt.

Ann Arbor Food

Potatoes beds and seeds

Happy Hill-ed Potatoes

I will be posting other garden designs from follow community gardeners soon.

So What am I growing?

Green beans
5 kinds of Kale
Collards
4 Kinds of Potato (Salad, Fingerling, yukons
Sweet Potato
Watermelon (baby and large)
Cantaloupe
Cucumbers (Pickling, standard, english and Armenian
Mustard Greens (Mizuna and Purple)
Arugula
Spinach (If it does not bolt)
Onions
Eggplant (Japanese and Large Purple)
Peppers (Red sweet, Cayenne
tomatoes (Not sure, I inherited some of Project Grows plants…20 plants)
Radish Three Kinds (breakfast, red ball, diakon)
Turnips (Big and white Japanese)
Kohlrabi
Broccoli
Cabbage
Winter Squash (Butternut, Buttercup, acorn)
Flowers (Mix)
Herbs (Parsley, rosemary, thyme, hyssop, basil,
Giant Snow Peas (If they grow in this heat)
Beets
Corn
Chard
Celeriac
Radicchio
Carrot

My Garden. It goes all the way up the hill 25 x 60

Ann Arbor Food

Kale: Dino, White, Red Russian, Green, and Curly,

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Planting Time: Reflections on Last Year

OK. I have high hopes for my garden last year and I even experimented with some “Time saving” strategies for growing potatoes, my main crop. The idea was to grow potatoes and sell them at my booth at the farmers market.

There were a few issues with the idea. The first was that I used only straw to cover my potatoes, which resulted in a disaster.

(see my enthusiastic before the fact post on horizontal potato growing method.)

The second was that I was planning to sell potatoes, a commodity crop, and most other farmers at the market were selling them and many customers at the market told me that they had a sack of potatoes in their kitchen already

What happened is that along with potato beetles, that ate the leaves , I discovered a centipede bug that ate the tubers.

Potato Beetle not full grown, without distinctive yellow strips

I was really good at picking off the potato beetles and they did not actually kill too many plants, so I figured that I would still get a nice harvest of potatoes.

Centipede bug that ate my potatoes especially my yukon golds

But the real damage were these guys above, a centipede like bug that ate the potatoes.

I was told that my straw mounding method, instead of mounding with soil, is what did me in.

Apparently, what happened is that these centipedes have a hard time getting around under soil, but my nice and moist and loose straw created a perfect home for them and they ate 75% of my potatoes especially my Yukon Golds.

I harvested over 10o pounds, but I should have had 300-500 pounds or more.

Potato harvest

Also my second experiment, potato bags where a total wash.

The plants look great, but yielded no potatoes.

 I literally had less tubers than the seed potatoes I planted. Potato bags are really hit or miss and for me, this being the second time I have tried, it was a complete MISS. Both times, I had no potatoes.
The lesson here is to grow potatoes the traditional way.
That means digging a trench, planting and covering them and mounding them up with soil as they grow.
Then forking them up. 
This takes some effort, but I have found all of the experiments to not be worth it.
As a side note, I used to work for a garden catalog company that sold a potato bin that boosted 50 pounds of potato yields. The company had to issue refunds and was doing a test of 200 of the bins to see if the product worked.
I opted to use good old soil and planted my potatoes in a 3 x 3 foot space giving them a square foot per plant for a total of nine plants. I am pretty sure I out grew any potato bins.