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Year in Review, Part 2, Garden Lessons

If you are thinking of installing a lasagna garden bed (or built some this past Fall), pile up your top layer as much as you can without having it spill over the edges. You’ll be amazed at how much the material in your bed compacts as your bottom layers go through their composting. I think I lost almost 50% of the height in my beds over this season. It didn’t seem to affect my harvest, though occasionally I would find some exposed roots and the lower volume could cause your beds to dry out more quickly.

Also, be sure to add a good amount of calcium, in the form of lime, to your new lasagna bed. I didn’t and had a problem with blossom end rot in my tomatoes (mostly my plum-type tomatoes, interestingly) throughout the season even after I added lime. This may also have been an effect of the compacting of the beds because for the tomatoes to absorb the calcium, the beds need to be moist and as the beds compacted they dry out more quickly.

I think my mission to develop Bacterial Wilt (BW) resistant cucumber seeds may be succeeding. Every year I’ve live here in the Hudson Valley my cukes have been devastated by this disease which is transmitted to the plants by Cucumber Beetles. In 2009 I saved some seeds from plants that didn’t die from BW and grew this year’s cukes from those seeds. I’m not sure any of my plants died of BW this year. I’m a little suspicious of this result because usually disease-resistance doesn’t develop so quickly. I definitely saw fewer Cucumber Beetles than usual on the plants this year (though there were some) so I could be that this was just a bad year for them. I saved more seeds from last year and I’ll see if the trend continues.

Striped Cucumber Beetle

Striped Cucumber Beetle

I planted my first asparagus this year. The directions on the package I got talked about not covering the crowns (that’s what asparagus roots are called) completely at planting, but to cover them as the asparagus grew. I tried this but it resulted in the roots drying out too much and a number of my plants died. I would advise covering the crowns completely, but just to soil level. This way the crowns won’t dry out as easily, but growth of the asparagus won’t be hindered by being buried too deeply.

Most of my garden now gets water by drip irrigation. It works really nicely and is not hard to install, even though it can seem a bit intimidating. I mostly use a company called Dripworks. I like their products and if you send them a proposed garden design they will design an irrigation system for free. However, if they recommend using T-tape I suggest you don’t. According to a design they developed for me I used T-tape and found it difficult to work with and that it leaked a lot where it connected to other hoses. I recommend using soaker dripline instead because of greater flexibility, a wide range of emitter spacing (the places where the water comes out of the hose), and easy installation. Adams Fairacre Farms also carries most of what you need to set up a drip irrigation system.

That’s all for now. I know I’m starting to get that gardening itch. How about you?

One Response to “Year in Review, Part 2, Garden Lessons”

  1. Shannon says:

    I really appreciate the helpful information you have on this website. I’ve sent it to all my gardening friends! Thanks a bunch, Jay!

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