My Edible Garden

I've been gardening for most of my life and have been a devoted fan of organic gardening the whole time. It just makes so much more sense to work in harmony with Mother Nature than to fight her. Besides which it is better for the planet and better for our bodies. Here you can see what I'm planting and harvesting, with gardening hints and resources thrown in for good measure.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sometimes You Gotta Know When to Fold 'Em

sad looking row of beans
Everything in the garden is an experiment. I know something will always make food and there will be an abundance of many things. But some years things just don't work out. In that case you have to know when to fold 'em and start over.

This double row of bush beans has not done well all summer. It sprouted up pretty well then whole stretches of seedlings died off for no apparent reason.

No matter how much I run the soaker hose the beans always looked like they weren't getting enough water.

That double row is almost 25 feet long. I should have picked 10-15 pounds of beans already  with more coming on. I haven't gotten a single bean. Time to cut my losses, rip it out, dig it up and start over.

This garden is on the creekside and part of it was filled in about 20 years ago when a flash flood took out the bank. It was a chicken pen for a few years before I turned it into a garden. I loosened up the beds as well as I could and piled compost on top. Every season saw more compost, but I have never actually double dug the beds like I usually do in a garden. So time to get busy.

shallow soil
It's hard to see I know, but the roots on the left side are bean roots and those on the right are weeds. Our perennial horse nettle has thick roots and can grow through anything. In other areas I could see a clear line between the topsoil and the subsoil. The topsoil was only about 6 inches deep. I also noted that the soaker hose only seemed to be wetting an area about 4 inches on each side of it and only about 6 inches deep. The rest of the 2 foot wide bed was very dry. No wonder those poor bean plants always looked thirsty!

metal junk

Besides tons of rock of all sizes I have been digging out strange metal bits.

sand and gravel subsoil

The biggest issue is probably that the subsoil is pure sand and gravel, so what ever water gets down there just keeps on going. For that reason I'm digging this bed deeper that I normally would.

digging deep
about half way done

The subsoil I'm digging out is going into the path way. The final level of the bed will be below the path to help conserve water.

blow out

I have 300 feet of hose that goes up to the chicken pens. It is several years old and has been doing great. But today there was a blow out. Fortunately I had what I needed to fix  it.

I have not been so lucky fixing broken soaker hoses however. Once they have a blow out they just seem to keep on going. My cucumber row also had a blow out today. That is the 3rd soaker hose this year. In the future I will do strictly drip tape. If a drip hole clogs up I can unclog it with the point of a nail. It is easy to work with and hook up and seems to last forever, as long as the rats and rabbits don't chew on it.

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