I got home from work tonight at 5:00, so I had a few hours that I could spend in the garden before it got dark. I needed to get my new grape vines planted. They have been in the packing material for about a week, and were starting to bud out, so I wanted to get them in. I am trying 3 different varieties, Canadice, Reliance, and Interlaken.
I also planted my potatoes. I am trying something new this year. Last year when I made my tomato cages out of concrete reinforcing wire, I made way to many. So, I dug six small holes, buried a whole seed potato, and then covered it with soil and straw. Then I put a cage over each potato, and added straw. As the plant grows I will continue to add soil and straw. I have tried variations of this method before, but this time I really want to check how many potatoes I get from each cage, and how that compares to just growing them the traditional way.
I still had some extra time after getting the grapes and potatoes planted, so I decided to plant some 'Dwarf Grey Sugar' peas. I know that it is a little late, but I had the seed, so I thought that I would go ahead and try it.
I am trying something very radical this year, something that I never dreamed that I would ever do. Even my husband thinks that I have lost it. Can you guess?
Well, after reading Teaming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels, (I didn't actually read the whole book, I kind of jumped around) I have decided not to roto-till my garden this year! This is huge for me! I love that first garden tilling in the Spring. All of the leaves, straw, and weeds get tilled into the soil, it just seems so right. Then, along comes this book that tells me just how much damage I am actually doing to my soil. Tonight when I went out to plant the peas, I almost changed my mind. The soil looked so hard, and the weeds were sprouting, the soil was perfect for tilling, and my husband was sitting there on his tractor with that look in his eye. I know what he wanted. He wanted to drop that tiller on that soil and just go roaring across my garden murdering all of those defenseless little bacteria, fungi, and other nasty sounding stuff. He tried everything to convince me to let him loose on that garden, even suggesting that we just till part of the garden and do a comparison on which vegetables do better. I finally said NO!, NO!, NO!, and he skulked away, defeated.
Now, the odd thing is that I am used to soft, freshly turned soil, that is easy to plant. Now I am standing with this little pea seeds, and this hard ground. How am I going to do this. So I go to my shed looking for some tool to get these seeds 2 inches into this ground. Then I spot my dibble. Now if you don't know what a dibble is don't feel stupid. They are not used much here in the states, but they are great little gadgets. They are made specifically for making holes, and that is just what I needed, so I grabbed it and headed back to the garden.
It worked perfectly! I have to admit, it worked better than when the ground is tilled. The holes were perfect, and I dropped a pea seed into each one, and then added a light coating of compost over the row, and covered it with shredded leaves. Now, I probably should keep notes on how the vegetables do with this new method, and I might even say that I will do that. But I know better. All I ask is that they grow and produce enough food that it was worth my time planting them.
And, I will be able to sleep soundly tonight knowing that all of that microbial stuff is safe and sound out there in the garden.