Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Solstice

Landing in a lush Swiss Alpine meadow

Wow, I was just reviewing pictures from earlier posts and can't believe how the gardens are compared to those pictures.  What were empty prepared beds are now over-grown.  I took a 10 day paragliding trip to Switzerland and to France at the end of May.  View my pictures on the Picasa link below:

When I returned the corn which was just sprouting in the seed bed was 20 inches tall and in need of transplant.  The lawns, weeds, greenhouses were all out of hand, over-grown. The long days of Summer make plants grow, yes really really grow.

sweet potato 
basil growing crazy

It's been a couple of weeks since my return, so I've begun to get the growth under control.  I built a fertilizer machine and a new compost pile.  My friend Kirk Deffebach built a fertilizer machine at his "franch" a few miles from us and suggested I build one for myself.  It is really an expanded Worm Farm constructed by using a piece of tin on an angled frame.  I layer grass clipping, horse manure and kitchen scraps.  I put my red wiggler worms inside and they will help the break down into compost.  Additionally, I have a bucket which collects the liquid worm juice, an excellent liquid plant food I spray on my vegetables (see earlier post on worms).  In  a month or so, I should have mature compost (humus) to add to my gardens.

fertilizer machine

A new compost pile was needed to deal with the incredible volume of green waste.  My thinking was that it was inefficient to keep moving material from the compost pile to the gardens.  Additionally, it was a waste of the nutrients escaping from the pile itself as the plants near the compost pile always grow so well.  Therefore, Drake and I cleared the surface weeds from an old raised bed and we started layering green plant material and brown plant material (dried lawn clippings) and adding horse manure.  It is already 3 feet high.  That raised bed should produce "super" vegetables in a few months.  I will continue this concept and will have to find an additional garden space by next weekend.

composting in place over raised bed garden

I want to show two of my greenhouses.  One is dedicated to tomatoes, where I have both beefsteak and cherry tomatoes.  The greenhouse protects the plants from too much rain.  Tomatoes planted outside will rot and turn brown when we get periods of extended rain.  In the greenhouse they do fine.  I prune each plant weekly, removing any sucker growth other than the terminal growing tip.  This technique forces the energy to go into fruit production verses vegetative growth.  I am harvesting half a five gallon bucket of tomatoes at least twice per week and it looks like it will continue through the summer.  I am drinking homemade tomato juice as I write this.

tomato house

This is my lettuce house, where I have red leaf, green head, and romaine lettuce.  This one house provides more salads than our family can eat.  I have a few cilantro and basil plants but won't replant them in this house again as they do so well outside regardless of rainfall.

lettuce house

Lastly, I want to share a great meal Jennifer created from our gardens.  It is a heritage tomato soup, with a dab of cream.  She put fresh tomato slices, goat cheese, and basil leaves on toasted baguette slices.

Garden based dinner

1 comment:

  1. hey eric, glad you enjoyed europe and got home ok. it was a pleasure to meet you guys, shame we didn't know about your off the grid knowledge. we have a small farm, planning to move there next year and start feeding ourselves :-)