Saturday, April 10, 2010

Double Digging

We had a garden party today! A few friends came over and together with Flora, the main garden beds got tilled using the "double digging" technique. Double digging is where you dig a 1 foot deep trench along one side of the garden bed. The soil that is dug out gets set aside for later. As one person moves along the garden digging the first trench, a second person comes behind them and digs another trench right beside the one that was just dug. The soil from the second trench gets turned into the side of the first trench. And this continues until the entire garden has been tilled across. When the last trench is dug along the finishing side of the garden, the soil from the first trench is dumped in to fill the gap. After its all smoothed over with a rake, the bed should be "fluffed up" and completely tilled. This really only needs to be done for the first year or two as you are building the soil with organic matter. Once the soil has improved enough, future years can be done by just turning under the cover crops.

This will be the second summer that our garden will have been planted after pulling up sod. Already we've seen much improvement in the soil. What is here has more loamy/organic matter to it with less clay. The clumps fall apart really easily and it can be worked by hand without a trowel as well.

After the garden was tilled up, I planted our first outdoor seeds of the season. I put in Red Norland and Yukon Gold potatoes (organic from the farmers' market), Alderman Shelling Pea (open pollinated, climbing vine, 120 days), Oregon Sugar Pod II snow pea (hybrid, short vine, 60 days), and Jerusalem Artichoke (also known as a sunchoke).

Our starts from a couple weeks ago are getting taller and some are already getting their first sets of true leaves. The garlic that we overwintered in the garden is a little over a foot tall, thick and looking healthy. Our leeks from the winter garden are also getting big- about a foot and a half tall although not very thick yet (only about 3/4 inch across on the largest ones). We've been diligent about keeping dirt pulled up around the leeks to ensure the bases get well blanched.

If the weather holds off, we'll be sowing our first rounds of cool season chards, spinach, carrots, and beets.

Also, asparagus are starting to come into season! We picked up some great looking stalks from the farmers' market this morning along with some nice raab. Spring is already shaping up to be a very productive summer!


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