Thursday, April 14, 2011

Please excuse us, we're experiencing technical difficulties

I'll try to figure out this bug soon! Thanks for being patient.  Eric asked about good books to start with when trying to grow our own veggies and fruits.  I have a LOT of books, but the most insightful are:

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew
Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons

I glean info from these books to apply to my garden. Some things work great, others not so much.

Currently, I'm trying to expand my knowledge about Permaculture, and 
Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway is a great intro book into the concepts.

The never-ending debate is about mulching in our family. My Mom and I disagree about the need for mulching. I say, mulch heavily (like 1' deep) and she says "No, it invites slugs, weevils and other harmful pests." So far, I'm letting her do it her way in the raised beds but the soil pays for it. It dries up so fast in this CA weather.  The trees do get lots of mulch in the backyard since slugs don't eat bark, she agreed to let me do that.  I show her piles of leaves and yard waste stacked because we had no room in the compost. Showing her the soil line right below the rich decaying material, were mostly red wriggler worms and hardly any slugs or weevils. I explained that slugs will eat the decaying material if there's plenty of it. They only bother to eat the greens because they lack food. She just shakes her head in disbelief. (I'll convert her some day... hehehe.)  We are having an explosion of slugs this year. Perhaps it's the extra rains we're getting.

She and I also disagree with my adoption of the "Square Inch" methods that the Dervaes incorporate.  I pack the lettuces/carrots in. I seed them very densely and thin them as they grow. She complains it takes too much work.  I say we get more food out of the bed than neatly spacing them out according to seed package instructions or mature size of the plant, and the density provides a natural living mulch.  She says the plants don't thrive because they compete too much for nutrients with each other.  I say you just keep adding more nutrients as needed. You can tell if a lettuce is anemic. It starts yellowing and stops growing.

"The best fertilizer is the Gardener's Shadow." ~author unknown

So, there you have it some reading recommendations and a glimpse of our daily discussions. :-)


BLD in MT said...

Ah...gardening debates. They are so classic and amusing. : )

We mulch deeply at our house. Matt hates having to water so much and the mulch helps tremendously.

The head of our community garden told us: "There are thousands of ways to garden 'right' and only a few that are truly 'wrong'" Thus, everyone has their own idea of what is best. Sometimes that is good, and others not so much.

Anne said...

I'd have to go with your Mom on the slug thing. Slugs will feast on live plants vs dead material. They need a place to hide that is cool and moist.. mulch is just the thing they love. (Btw.. slugs have eaten worms. I don't know if it is just 1 species, but if they can catch them, at least 1 species has been recorded eating a living earthworm.)

Diatomaceous earth does bother them, but when wet they will crawl right over it.

Put a wood board or sheet of cardboard down in the garden.. no mulch. The slugs will be drawn to hide under the board. Flip up the board in the morning and hand pick the lil pests out.

I know they are a pain. Last year we had a massive explosion of slugs (so bad that just kneeling to weed.. when I stood up.. I would have several on me! All over the yard.. millions! And I was in an arid climate!) Last year had me wishing I could have ducks soooo badly (ducks adore slugs as snacks).

Good luck, and hang in there! I hope this is a great year for your garden!

AJK said...

BLD, thanks for your insight on the "rights and wrongs". I just want to try the deep mulching to see if it works, just on one bed.

Anne, yes we're drawing them in with boards and pots. We check for them every morning and sometimes go on a slug hunt at night. There are hundreds, even thousands. And yes! I wish we had ducks sometimes too!

I know that watering at night invites slugs and snails. So we stopped doing that a long time ago. The beer/yeast bait does work, but is messy.

Thanks for stopping by you 2!