Started on my raised bed (long post!)
The weather cooperated Saturday and I was able to rotary till the raised bed at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds and then later that day start transplanting seedlings and sowing a few seeds. Most of the seedlings came from seeds donated by Baker Creek Heirloom seeds (rareseeds.com), the others from a local hardware store.
Start with the tilling - the top of the bed has about four inches of silty dirt with just a tad of clay in it.
The next layer is eight inches of compost. The bottom layer was plain dirt from the bottom of the fairgrounds, just like the top layer. It is about eight inches thick. The two feet of depth should help keep the asphalt from transferring heat to the dirt and give the roots plenty of room to grow.
Before listing the various plants, I want to back up to the planning stage. The goal is to have mature plants, bearing fruit where appropriate, by August 10. At the same time, I did not want them to have completed their life cycle and looks like dead weeds or vines. Google and seed companies were valuable sources of information in this quest. They provided the days it will take for the plant to mature, whether sown as seeds or as seedlings. For the seedlings such as most of what I planted yesterday, I had to add and four-five weeks. Some of the little creatures such as cotton, Yicama and 7-pod hot pepper where sown last year or in January. Of course, the weather is a variable; last years mostly cool and wet July delayed the production and ripening of tomatoes and peppers, among others.
Another concern is the growing habits of some vegetables. Spinach, radishes, lettuce, some peas, etc., do not like hot weather. They bolt (go to seed) quickly or lose their taste. For this reason, I will probably be sowing some things through June and even early July.
So what has been planted so far? A quite eclectic group with more coming. YesterdayÂs transplants and the number of each were:
Jicama - four
Cotton - four
Eggplants - one each of Long Purple, Ping Tung and Black Champion
Sweet/Bell peppers - one each of Crispy Hybrid, Purple Beauty and Banana
Hot Peppers - one each of Jalapeno, Habenero, Black Pearl, 7-pod, Fish, Cayenne, Tepin, Hungarian Hot Wax
Tomatillo - one Tomatillo Verde
Mennonite Sorghum - four
Rice - four
Tomatoes - one each of Legend, Red Zebra, Red Delicious, Better Boy, Red Stuffer and Riesentraube (a cherry tomato)
Celery - three
Broccoli - three
Spices - two oregano, two parsley (still have Genovese, Lemon and Honey Basil as well as Cilantro and Marjoram to plant once they get acclimated to the outside).
There are also two rows of Silver Queen corn and a row of Black Seeded Simpson lettuce.
Green Beans - Old Homestead, Chinese Red Noodle, Royalty Purple Pod
Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Mustard - Southern Giant Curled, Japanese Giant Red
Kale - Blue Curled Scotch, * Dwarf Siberian
Peas - Oregon Sugar Pod II, Lincoln Garden
Squash - Patisson Panache Jaune Et Vert Scallop, Tono Scuro di Piacenza (can you imagine trying to tell visitors to the fair what the plants are called?! IÂm going with "squash."
Cucumbers - Sikkim, Lemon, Telegraph Improved
Turnips - Yukon Gold
Plus, in a container, I will have peanuts and Alpine Strawberries - my PB&J stash!
I still need to sow Spinach - Bloomsdale and Giant Noble; Cabbage - Tete Noire and Early Jersey Wakefield; and onions.
I am not opposed to Better Living Through Chemistry! We always used fertilizers (10-10-10 and 33-0-0) on our crops and none of us had any abnormal problems. I even sprayed potatoes with DDT to kill the bugs. But I know urban folks tend to be more concerned and interested in organic (no chemicals) farming so I am attempting to go this route. There are organic insecticides/pesticides such as Safer Soap and Neem Oil. Hot pepper powder, garlic, even a tea made from tomato leaves can be added. They can be safely applied and the fruit eaten the next day, though it is always a good practice to wash fruit and veggies before eating.
There are also natural repellents for deer, rabbits, squirrels and hopefully geese.
Plus, I have experienced the beneficial results of using compost tea, applied every other week. I have been making gallons of it and do not intend to slow down.
I also learned of another all-natural fertilizer that studies showed had a significant impact on production - mixing yeast with sugar and dissolving it in water, then applying it twice a year.
One thing that some people forget, especially if they shop on-line or visit specialty stores, is that organic fertilizers and pesticides do not always cost an arm and a leg. My compost tea is as close to free as it can be. Rain water, table scraps, dirt from the yard, leaves from trees and plants - no cost. The only expense is running an air pump (uses 15 watts an hour!) to aerate it and I only do that for a day or two before adding it to the plants.
Hopefully, we can have a Fall Harvest at the fair grounds. One of the 4-H'ers donate a pig then have it with soup, salads and cooked greens! People will need to bring desserts!