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Sunday, May 30, 2010

She's hoping

After sixty days and sixty nights of, mostly, rain, Risa's a month behind in the garden. Potatoes are up, and fava beans have done well -- The sunchokes at the ends of the beds are bullying the apple trees -- but most other things are Barely There, and this weekend is the big push to get the beans, corn, winter squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, cukes, zukes, eggplants, and the like into the ground.

Here, she's putting Helda green beans and scarlet runner beans along the peas, with the idea that they will climb up the pea vines and continue up the beanpoles -- the last three years this has worked well, so she's hoping.

She has a glove on her left hand -- it's the one with the arthritis flare-up, so she keeps it warm. With her left she makes a "nest" in the mulch and pats in a handful of planting soil mix, then puts in three beans with her right, eyes down, and with the left, dumps on another handful of mix, and on to the next spot.

In the corn beds, she's putting similar small hills of corn, corn, corn, butternut squash, corn.

These beds don't look like they're about corn and squash, though. They already contain potatoes, fava beans, bok choi, kale, collards, lettuce, and elephant garlic. Risa is interplanting in a plan known as polyculture. The idea is to mix everything together so that pests can't just pick their favorite thing and then follow it down the row. Also, different vegs' root systems bring up different nutrients, so intensive interplanting permits closer planting. And though Risa hasn't heard it mentioned, it seems to her that beds with mixed vegs don't need as much watering.

Taller and shorter plants don't seem to mind being together -- light comes in via the pathways -- and the beans give the kale's roots enough shade, and vice versa, to keep soil from drying out too easily, or overheating. Whether these advantages will play out this year, after such a cold spring, remains to be seen.

So ... she's hoping.


Weather means more when you have a garden. There's nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. -- Marcelene Cox

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