Garden Update: Pumpkins, Pickles, Kraut, Cardboard and Mulch … Oh, and Flowers!

It’s been awhile since I posted a garden update, but that’s not for lack of things going on in the garden. On the contrary, I’ve been too busy doing to post about doing. Here are some recent photos and commentary:

These backyard raised beds are humming with activity and color. You can also just catch a peek of the goji berry bushes against the neighbors' south facing garage.

These backyard raised beds are humming with activity and color. You can also just catch a peek of the goji berry bushes against the neighbors’ south facing garage.

Our first fairy tale pumpkin has made an appearance. We have some others started, too, but not this big.

Our first fairy tale pumpkin has made an appearance. We have some others started, too, but not this big.

The five-way dwarf apple tree continues to leaf out. It's doing much better than the dwarf fruit cocktail tree and the service berry trees I also planted from bare root. Those have minimal leafing and/or just a hint of buds.

The five-way dwarf apple tree continues to leaf out. It’s doing much better than the dwarf fruit cocktail tree and the service berry trees I also planted from bare root. Those have minimal leafing and/or just a hint of buds.

Meyer Lemon Tree and friends. He recently got staked for better posture. In the foreground you can see our mystery ornamental, hyssop, good bugs mix, and in the background, our quince, black lace elderberry and some sunflowers.

Meyer Lemon Tree and friends. He recently got staked for better posture. In the foreground you can see our mystery ornamental, hyssop, good bugs mix, and in the background, our quince, black lace elderberry and some sunflowers.

Our everbearing mulberry tree "doubled its height" when I added two more stakes for its floppy form. We have another mulberry tree for the birds. This one's for us!

Our everbearing mulberry tree “doubled its height” when I added two more stakes for its floppy form. We have another mulberry tree for the birds. This one’s for us!

In other vertical gardening news, the red malabar spinach has gone to flower before producing much in the way of vines or leaves. It's just been too cool this summer for the heat loving crops like okra, basil and malabar spinach to thrive. On the flip side, that makeshift trellis has been great for a black raspberry bush that's tripled in size this season.

In other vertical gardening news, the red malabar spinach has gone to flower before producing much in the way of vines or leaves. It’s just been too cool this summer for the heat loving crops like okra, basil and malabar spinach to thrive. On the flip side, that makeshift trellis has been great for a black raspberry bush that’s tripled in size this season.

The scarlet runner bean teepees have formed a hedge!

The scarlet runner bean teepees have formed a hedge!

Our other trellised black raspberry bushes nicely showcase the cardboard paths getting ready for mulch.

Our other trellised black raspberry bushes nicely showcase the cardboard paths getting ready for mulch.

Yes, we have more mulch! This is the third load this size or larger this year. I'll need to clear it fast, because I don't think I'm technically allowed to have it on the easement spilling over into the road.

Yes, we have more mulch! This is the third load this size or larger this year. I’ll need to clear it fast, because I don’t think I’m technically allowed to have it on the easement spilling over into the road.

At least the butterfly garden up front distracts attention from the mulch. :)

At least the butterfly garden up front distracts attention from the mulch. πŸ™‚

The bee habitat helps, too.

The bee habitat helps, too.

So does this happy polyculture up front.

So does this happy polyculture up front.

And these crazy tall sunflowers bloomed just as the Lemon Queen ones started looking spent.

And these crazy tall sunflowers bloomed just as the Lemon Queen ones started looking spent.

Perhaps most exciting, though: we finally, after nearly a year, have rain barrels installed! We still need a couple tweaks for maximum efficiency and flow, plus my Mother Nature and Tree of Life stickers, but otherwise, they're good to go.

Perhaps most exciting, though: we finally, after nearly a year, have rain barrels installed! We still need a couple tweaks for maximum efficiency and flow, but otherwise, they’re good to go.

Exciting times inside, as well: this past week I've made two kinds of sauerkraut and two batches of pickles. Our cabbage and cucumber harvests are off the hook. Apparently, they like this "Northern California Coastal" summer as much as I do.

Exciting times inside, as well: this past week I’ve made two kinds of sauerkraut and two batches of pickles. Our cabbage and cucumber harvests are off the hook. Apparently, they like this “Northern California Coastal” summer as much as I do.

There’s more, but that gives a glimpse into life at Faery-Hof, as my dad named our little plot of neglected land loved and harmonized into beauty and productivity. I still see all the things that need to be done, but compared to last year? We’ve come a long way, baby! Happy Sunday!

27 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Demitra M. N. on August 17, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Gloriously esthetic & dazzling –a scenic splendor– I love it!!! … thank you for sharing the lovely results of all your DO-ing, Laura. πŸ™‚

    Like

    Reply

  2. love it..all that hard work, passion, and love shows brightly. ❀

    Like

    Reply

  3. Posted by Mitch Mattraw on August 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Laura, so cool! All your hard work is bursting forth is splendor, wonderful to see, and see you too, yeah! I’m putting our’s rain barrel up on blocks, great idea!

    blessings πŸ™‚

    Like

    Reply

    • Thanks, Mitch! Yes, those were the instruction for our rain barrels, but I think it will create more water pressure. We haven’t had any rain since installing them, but I look forward to when we do. πŸ™‚ Blessings!

      Like

      Reply

  4. Love your giant sunflowers and shiny hair! What kind of mulch do you use, Laura – is it cedar?…or pine? xo

    Like

    Reply

    • Thanks, Diana! I use whatever mulch our mulch guy provides, but I use it in different places and different ways, depending. I’m top of his list in Goshen, so he always gives me an option on the best hardwood, which takes longer to break down. That’s good for paths or if you don’t want to mulch again very soon. Hickory seems to be a common one for that. Last year, he gave me a LOT of pine, which breaks down faster and is more acidic. I have a huge pile of pine needles and unknown thick branches under some pine bark and hickory, which I’ve turned into a makeshift hugelkultur bed for two blueberry plants. They love the acidic environment, and with all that mass of pine needles and wood, it creates a bog-like situation that blueberries enjoy. No cedar yet. I don’t think cedar trees are very common here. Last year, we had a fair amount of ash, because the ash borers got all the ash trees. This year, we’ve had nicer hardwood, because all the storms took down otherwise healthy trees. xo

      Like

      Reply

  5. Posted by beth on August 17, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Amazingly Awesome! wow, a true “fairy” feast πŸ™‚

    Like

    Reply

  6. It looks like you are using, or at least using a variation of, the Back to Eden woodchip/mulch covering technique? Has it cut back on your watering needs? If so, by how much do you estimate? Thanks!

    Like

    Reply

    • Hi Nathan & Aline, yes, in some parts of the garden, I’m using the Back to Eden woodchip/mulch covering technique. In other areas I have raised beds. For our front area, I did kind of a lasagna garden underneath the wood mulch last fall. It’s difficult to say in the first year if it cuts down on watering by a certain percentage. In the first year, the soil’s not that rich, so the new plants need much more attention. A friend of mine used duck manure under her wood mulch last fall, and they had rich soil this spring. Now that the chips have had more time to break down, I’ve barely watered for months up front. In the wood mulch bed up front on the other side — which I started the previous fall — I’ve not watered more than once all year, except for newly transplanted zinnias and borage earlier this summer. I’d say, a mature wood mulch bed cuts water use by about 80%, but you probably won’t see that result the first year unless you use some very high nitrogen manure (like the duck poop) in the previous fall. That heats up, so it breaks down the wood mulch much faster. The rich soil underneath is a big reason you don’t need to water so much. The duck manure also kept my friend’s plants from looking so nitrogen starved this spring. I, on the other hand, needed to do some major soil amendment to get anything to grow. Live and learn! She started out with rich soil underneath, though, too, whereas ours is terribly sandy soil, full of tree stumps and weeds. It depends what you’re starting with! πŸ™‚

      Like

      Reply

      • Ahhh, yes, I have run into more than a few YouTube videos where they say that it is important to start with a good 8-12 inch base of manure compost and regular compost under the mulch, otherwise there are issues with nitrogen depletion. That is great to hear about how much less watering you need to do from year 2 and on though, very nice!!! It’s great to see people taking a technique and proving it works, it encourages me in my own upcoming experiment!

        I was thinking about starting a 5 x 5 yards raised bed, about two feet tall, with hugelkultur at the bottom, lots of nitrogen rich manure and compost in between, a little soil and rock dust, and then a lot of mulch on top this fall, prepping it for next spring. I think it is a bit overkill in regards to watering, since Belgium is much like Seattle in regards to annual rainfall, but it should be a great garden bed from year 2 and on in regards to soil health and yield. Aline’s father is a gardener with his own industrial strength wood chipper, should be fun to see how it turns out.

        Like

        Reply

        • Sounds like a great plan, but will you be able to reach everything with a 5 x 5 yards bed? You might want to consider multiples of a smaller size so that you won’t need to step on your growing soil to harvest. That really makes a big difference in soil compaction. πŸ™‚

          Like

        • Is it as big of a deal with mulch on the whole thing, just walk between the rows, just like if it was a regular mulch bed without the layers? Or am I missing something that raised bed offers above a conventional garden bed?

          Like

        • As long as you are always walking the same paths not on plant roots, it’s OK, but the less soil compaction the better. Raised beds are great in that they usually have zero. Also, why waste the biomass under paths?

          Like

        • Yeah, that makes sense, especially the waste of the biomass. Good point, thanks!

          Like

  7. Posted by ksense on August 18, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Laura, you have to try fermenting cauliflower and carrots! I take 1/2 teaspoon of mayo and add to a cup of it to make the best “coleslaw” I’ve ever tasted.

    Like

    Reply

    • Hi ksense, thanks for the tip. I don’t grow cauliflower and would need to figure out a mayo substitute, but it sounds very interesting. πŸ™‚ I should have a lot of carrots soon! They were in my good bug friendly mix, so we have loads of carrots all over the yard now.

      Like

      Reply

  8. Posted by manyhahama1955 on August 18, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Beautiful and inspiring! Thanks for sharing. Hugs and love, Sophia

    On Sun, Aug 17, 2014 at 11:12 AM, Laura Bruno’s Blog wrote:

    > laurabruno posted: “It’s been awhile since I posted a garden update, > but that’s not for lack of things going on in the garden. On the contrary, > I’ve been too busy doing to post about doing. Here are some recent photos > and commentary: “

    Like

    Reply

  9. Looks like someone is friends with the elementals. πŸ˜€

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: