Friday, June 5, 2009
[click on photos for large image]Yesterday we began the final breakdown. We have given away almost all of the viable plants to happy homes. The remainder are now living in my front yard - a spare broccoli and collard greens that came in late. The rest of the plant were pulled up and placed in the compost. And, let me say a few words of praise about the compost. I have not encountered dirt like this since I left my home state of Massachusetts three years ago. This is the real McCoy. It's dark brown, full of nutrients. I mixed up several wheel barrows' full of it and spread it around the empty beds. I also turned the soil in the seven beds on the west side, the squared rectangles. It all looked pretty healthy. There were a few sprouts of sedge that had populated the southern most beds, and some crab grass growing in the north. But for the most part, the beds had remained free of weeds. We had a largish mass of vegetable product to pile in the compost, as you can see. The lettuce had all bolted, producing enormous stalks with large yellow flowers. I looked for seeds, but couldn't find anything. We took out all of the broccoli that had been harvested or had also bolted. We gave away two of the three cucumbers. I have the third languishing in my front yard. I won't bet that it won't make it. But I won't that it will either. They put a vine-like root throughout the soil where they grow. Next time, we should grow two plants from the center of one bed. Our beans are still producing. I have been letting the pods develop and saving the results. We will have ample bean seeds for next fall's garden. I have also saved an overripe cucumber with the same idea. The yellow crook-necked squash seems to have stopped producing all over the garden, but the zucchini and the watermelon both seem willing to go one more round. So we dug out everything in all of the rectangles and the northernmost angled bed. I was going to post pictures of the new purple sweet potato flowers and mention that I dug a small sweet potato out of the ground yesterday and decided to let them mature a few more weeks. I was also going to post a picture of the five watermelons that are still maturing on the vine (five or six have already been harvested, although the ones I saw were not yet ripe) but I thought that would be overkill. When I finished turning the soil and mixing in last semester's compost, I moved the green plants to the right hand composter, covered them with soil from the left hand composter, dumped the remaining horse manure on top of the compost in the left hand composter, cover it with the remaining compost from the ground, and peaked the pile of sand from under our beds. Then we covered the first two beds with the plastic sheeting to heat up the soil and prevent it from washing away. I think our soils are richer and we will have some good additional compost to work with in September. I will save some other seeds. A third grade reading coach came out and chatted with me late last week. She thanked us for our work, "Your students had a real big impact on these kids," she told me. "And your kids had a big impact on my students," I replied. We will finish up laying the plastic next week and return three week later to see what the sweet potatoes and watermelons have done.