Thursday, April 28, 2011

My 2011 Garden Plan

It's Spring in New England and I'm preparing my gardens.

This year, I planted oak leaf lettuce and spinach in a cold frame and selected seeds for a Summer raised bed garden of eggplant, cucumbers,peas, beans, and heirloom cherry tomatoes.

5 years ago, my wife and I joined the waiting list for a space in the Wellesley Community Garden on Brookside Road.   We were just notified that we'll be granted a space this year.   This means that we'll have a 32 x 25 foot plot to share with another family.   Our plan is to install several raised beds and plant Japanese pumpkins (Kabocha) and other vegetables that require generous amount of sunny, well-drained flat ground that we do not have in our backyard because of the 100 foot hemlocks causing shade much of the year.

All our seeds come from the Kitazawa Seed Company, a truly remarkable supplier.

For the next few weekends, I'll be tilling soil, hauling mulch, building fences, and installing raised beds.    My plan for new fencing to keep rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks from eating our fresh produce is pictured above.   I found two great design resources - one about wire fencing and one about raised beds.

We've lived in New England for 15 growing seasons so I've learned not to plant tender seedlings until after mid May.   It's still possible to have a hard freeze in April despite the temptation to plant induced by occasional 70 degree days.

As my daughter goes off to college and we enter the next stage of life (51-60),  the time in our backyard garden and our new community garden space will be very therapeutic.

The rituals of the planting/harvesting cycle, the anticipation of fresh vegetables, and physical labor of small scale farming  melt away all the problems of the week.   I look forward to a weekend in the dirt!


Renaissance Technology Consultants Group said...

John - I've been following your blog for only a few weeks - you came onto my radar screen through a referral from Jon Udell re some conversations on healthcare IT and the Direct Project. I can't resist posting here to say that with this post I now know "for sure" why I find your postings on the current HIT scene to be so useful and "right on" re perspectives and perceptions I've been developing through work I'm exploring in this area as a retired IT person. Thanks for all you are doing!

Anonymous said...

Hi John- I hope your gardening pursuits are going well.Here are a few tips I have learned to ensure that my vegetables do well in the garden:
1)Soil- Always do a soil analysis before planting in an unfamiliar area especially if you plan to consume the plants. You don’t know what pesticides or fertilizers still may remain in the soil from year to year. The soil analysis will help you to determine how much macro (N, K, P, CA, Mg, and S) or micro nutrients (trace elements) should be added to balance the soil as well as the PH. Check for lead in an urban environment since auto emissions are a major contributor here.
2)Compost- Use a complete compost – Compost reduces the need for fertilizers, balances the soil
PH and nutrient requirements, and improves overall plant yield and vigor. Check to make sure the sodium content of the compost is low and that the compost is complete and has a friable, earthy quality and consistency.
3)Rotate your vegetables to reduce pests. Many pests are transmitted year to year through eggs in the soil. Never plant the same crop in the same place from year to year. Rotate by family or interval. Replace soil yearly if possible.
4)Companion plant – Farmers are familiar with the value of companion planting. Certain plants when grown together may compete for the same nutrients or stimulate similar pests or diseases. Pumpkins can be companion planted with celeriac, celery, corn, nasturtium, onion, or radish. Antagonists include tubers like potatoes.
5)Water – providing the optimum amount of water is a science in itself. Drip systems are the ideal solution for smaller areas such as urban settings and community gardens as they conserve water while providing maximum water to the root zone. In addition, disease in many varieties is reduced because foliage is spared from drenching.
6)Container Gardening or Hydroponics – I have switched to growing all of my vegetables in container gardens or hydroponically. Container gardens work well in places where space is limited and allows me to optimize the soil, water, and light requirements resulting in maximum plant yield with the least amount of effort. Disease is almost never a problem since I replace soil each year. Companies like the Gardener’s Supply Company in Vermont ( sell adequate containers for most vegetables. Hydroponics is also a great way to go if you are interested in the science of vegetable growing. Next time you visit Epcot Center at Disney World in Florida check out their hydroponic vegetable facility. It’s amazing how large they can grow their vegetables!
7)Other Pumpkin varieties recommended by Marcia Eames-Sheavly of Cornell University which are well adapted to this relative zone and are highly resistant to pests and disease include: Autumn Gold (H), Small Sugar, Baby Pam, Jackpot (H), Spookie, Youngs’ Beauty, Howden, Conn. Field, Baby Bear, Rocket (H), Tom Fox, Spooktacular (H), Goldrush (H), Merlin (H), Lil Ironsides (H), Lumina (H). Mini = Munchkin, Baby Boo, Jack-be-little
Giant = Big Max, Atlantic Giant, and Prize Winner
(H)- indicates Hybrid.

Good Luck!
Terrence Joyce