Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Solstice Straw Bale Garden Update

Solstice morning in the garden.
Happy Solstice! I'm determined to eek every ounce of productive time out of this longest day of the year, so what better task to add to the list than a garden update?  It's been about a month since I planted our 12 bales, and things are looking pretty good.  I applied some worm compost (poop from red wiggler composting worms) at planting time, and have  been using E.B. Stone Organic Tomato and Vegetable fertilizer, plus every week or two I apply some aerated worm compost tea that incorporates fish emulsion and kelp. There's not much for nutrients inside the bales so the plants appreciate frequent feedings. I wish things were farther along, but our season up here in the coastal range is about 30 days behind everywhere else, and our spring finished rather cool this year. Patience is a virtue, I guess.

These rudbeckias might be the first to use the trellis. These are in a pot of the humus left over from last season's bales.
The potatoes seem to like their new home.

Nothing is growing on our trellis yet, except for an unidentified squash that is about to leap. The green bean plants I bought for the first round were supposed to be the pole variety but I think they were mislabeled bush beans. The second round I planted in the ground next to the bales disappeared, and I'm guessing it was either a mole/gopher, or the chicken manure compost (too hot) that did them in - they never emerged. Yesterday I planted another round of seeds, this time in the bales.

Strawberries. Still not planted in the STRAW bales.
Tomatoes and basil. The tomatoes are a couple of feet tall now, except the Siletz variety (beefsteak), which is only about a foot tall.

Beans and radishes.
So what am I growing this year?  Here's the list:

Flamme Heirloom
Gold Medal Heirloom
Green Zebra
Sweet 100
And one other whose tag is lost

Early Sunsation
Iko Iko Pepper Lavender Bell
Italian Long Pepper
Jalapeno Gigante

Winter Speckled Round
Green Tiger Zucchini
Butternut Squash
Sunburst Patty Pan

Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Nobel Spinach (bolted immediately)
Romaine Lettuce
Roma II Italian Flat Beans
French Pole Beans
Emerite Pole Bean
Garlic (different varieties, from a friend)
Potatoes (Yukon Gold and Red)
Persian Cucumber
Pickling Cucumber
American Flag Leeks
Kyoto Japanese Eggplant
Italian Basil
Heavenly Hybrid Sweet Corn (white)

The corn is new this year, and it's an experiment. I had one extra bale (the 13th), and despite all advice from the interwebs, I turned this bale on its side and planted corn in it. Maybe it's my midwestern roots showing, definitely my stubbornness, but I'm determined to give it a go. The baling technique used by my supplier is not standard - the cut ends of the straw are not opposite the twine, they are on the same side of the twine. For this reason, plus the extra surface area, I decided to turn this bale on its side. It's not a lot of corn, and it's planted far closer together than advised, but we will see what happens. I'm sure I'll have to put up some kind of staking system so it won't fall over.

Still, as when I first started this garden a couple of years ago, my favorite thing is to wander out there as the early morning sun hits the rows, and just drink it all in. I love the smell, the sight of the new growth, and the birds, and it fills my tank.

I'm loving these interesting flower buds on this unidentified member of the squash family (acorn?).
Green Tiger Zucchini. I chose this one because it was pretty. It's doing much better so far than my zukes have in prior years.
Finally, remember that huge pile of spent straw I hauled out of the garden this spring? I've been composting it next to the garden enclosure in anticipation of putting a bed for corn in next year, on some soil that has never been planted.  I stole some of it yesterday to put on top of another bed that has been redone - it will be a great soil conditioner combined with some alpaca manure I got from a friend. I can't wait to see what that bed does.

Spent straw used as a feeding mulch on an ornamental bed. In the fall I'll take the iris out and divide them, and then amend the poor soil where they were growing.
What's new in your garden?


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