Senior Gardening

One of the Joys of Maturity


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The Old Guy's Garden Record

The idea for Senior Gardening came about from frequent postings I made about our garden on another web site I maintain. The idea was to create a place where folks could share garden lore via blogs and forums. While I'm still struggling a bit with the software that will eventually make that possible on senior-gardening.com, I thought I'd at least put up a record of our 2008 garden in part from those postings, loosely edited, from the other site.

May 22, 2008 - Wet Spring

We've had a very wet spring in west central Indiana this year. While farmers just a bit north and south of us are in fair to good shape on spring planting, around here, they're way behind. (Note untilled, unplanted field in the background of the May 21 shot below!) The wet spring also has slowed our gardening, but some of the early crops we got in are doing great.

Main Garden

Peas with PodsI ran out to the garden yesterday to grab a shot of our peas in bloom and was surprised to find a few of the plants already had set pods! We "mudded in" our peas in mid-March, so I really shouldn't have been so surprised.

full garden

While our "main garden" for this year looks pretty good (section with timbers creating a raised bed), our larger plot is still not planting ready. I had it close at one point, but didn't get our beans, tomatoes, and corn in before the rains came again.

Brassicas
Intensive

Our brassicas (here, broccoli and cauliflower) are doing great. We transplant as early as possible, as these plants can handle late frosts pretty well. We also mulch them in with grass clippings from the yard to hold the moisture for them.

The row on the right is filled with peppers. Originally, this row wasn't mulched in, as I'd seeded spinach into it. The spinach drowned out in the heavy spring rains, so I just scuffed up the surface a bit with an action hoe, transplanted the peppers into it, and mulched them in.

We do employ intensive gardening techniques in some areas of our garden. Even though we have lots of space in the country, we don't have that much good soil, so we concentrate on small areas.

Above are rows of onions, radish over carrots, beets, and more onions. Some are planted in double rows just four inches apart with twelve inch spacing between the main rows. This area will receive grass clipping mulch once the beets and carrots are off to a good start. The carrots share their rows with radishes, as the radishes help break the soil surface until the much slower germinating carrots break the surface. By the time the carrots need the space, the radishes are ready to be harvested.

Impatiens Petunias
We have lots of hanging baskets on our front and back porches this year. That is, in part, due to the wet weather allowing time for such stuff. Here are some impatiens I put in what is a new type of pot for us, a coco mat basket. We usually just recycle old hanging baskets we have. It seemed that every petunia seed we started germinated this year, so we have lots of petunias in hanging baskets!

holdingWe still have lots more planting to do once the weather clears up and the soil dries a bit. Our back porch "holding area" still has lots of impatiens for our shady flower beds in front of the house, and lots of onion starts to go somewhere!

Asparagus from Seed

Jim Crockett did a feature once on his PBS TV show, Crockett's Victory Garden, about growing asparagus from seed. It takes some doing, as you have to freeze the seed and even sand or apply an emery board to it a bit to get it to germinate. We actually let ours grow for almost a year under plant lights in a seed flat indoors before setting out the asparagus roots in a well worked seed bed. (Lots of peat moss, cow manure, and lime were worked deeply into the seed bed.)

Starting an asparagus bed from seed is a bit slower than purchasing asparagus roots, but it has some advantages, as noted on the University of Illinois Extension site:

Growing your own plants delays establishment of your bed an additional year, but it ensures that you are starting with freshly dug crowns that have not lost vigor by being dug, stored and shipped. Also, variety selection is usually much greater when shopping for seeds rather than crowns.

One more advantage to growing from seed is that you can pick either the all male seed type or from the older male and female varieties such as Viking, Martha Washington, etc. We chose the mixed varieties, despite the fact that all male plantings may produce thicker, larger spears "because they put no energy into seeds." We find that the seed production is a good thing, as the seeds can thicken and reinvigorate the stand of asparagus as it ages and experiences good and bad seasons and some expected winter kill.

Asparagus

This is the third year for our asparagus from seed. Most garden references say you can take a light picking from third year asparagus, but we choose to give ours one more year before picking. Last summer was extremely dry here, and our asparagus suffered from it, so we're going to wait another year. This is the second bed of asparagus from seed I've done, as I did it years ago when I had a small farm. There, the asparagus planting thickened over the years as the female plants produced viable seed.

We're also in a bit of a holding pattern, as I had to go back in for a "tune-up" on my elbow this week. I'd had some large cysts removed a year ago and ended up wearing a brace the nursing staff called "the club" for six weeks last summer. I guess I'm lucky that the reoccurrence wasn't as serious this year, and I only have a mildly inconvenient dressing and am restricted from lifting for two-three weeks. Yesterday, even typing was a chore. But then, doing anything more than snoozing in the easy chair was a chore, considering the pain-killers I was on.

April, 2008

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