Friday, April 30, 2010


i was on campus today because my son was taking a math placement test ( be forewarned...there will be a full compliment of mccolly males roaming the ivied campus this fall..i'm the one with the beard ) convieniently being given in hawthorn hall, so i stopped in at the garden to check my wormy pals and i found asparagus up and running...four of the eight i planted last friday have emerged...the photos are of the biggest it seems that my scheme to use the sandy subsoil as drainage is all they need is all the organic matter they can handle...but that's why the worms are there to convert mulch to plant food...we will work the natural processes like all agriculturalists...hopefully with more respect for them than some in industrial food.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

short ones, fat ones, long ones, skinny ones.

we've come along in our efforts to take the growth medium for grass that the university has created and turn it into soil...after adding a half-ton of compost and composted manure over the last six months, today we added a colony of red worms to the garden...they will loosen and aerate the soil and enhance its abillity to retain mosture...and their castings will fertilize the garden...all i have to do is provide an organic mulch and they'll do the rest...allies in growth...the pictures uploaded in an odd order but you can get the gist...i loosened the soil in an eighteen square inch area, dumped out the two hundred and fifty worms, and covered them with wet sections of the new york times...then i fixed the paper to the ground with landscaping staples because of the wind and covered it with a couple of lengths of bird tape to keep the ctitters at bay until the worms disperse ( a twenty four to forty-eight hour process) after that the guys are on their own in the food chain...the garden is doing okay...another potato is up..the yams are about ten inches tall( no leaves yet, but they will come ) the jerusalem artichokes and savory are fine...waiting for results on the asparagus...the tomatoes are coming along fine here at home and wheat grass goes in next month...teosinte is the last nut to crack...more equipment should be en route to help with that issue...soon we should be 100%.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


just a fast note to say four of the nine potatoes are up ( i think i uploaded the same plant in two photos...but you get the idea) the twelfth jerusalem artichoke has appeared as well...things are moving along...uncle jim from pennsylvania says my red wigglers shipped from his compost heap yesterday...more biomass for the garden...more as it comes up.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


stopped by the garden early this morning to see how things were going. i wanted to see how the rain had impacted the asparagus i planted on friday. they like to be well drained...standing water will drown them...and i wondered whether my strategy of digging down to sand before planting was working or if the holes had turned into sumps. i think we're okay...the soil was wet, not sodden....when i picked up a handful from one of the holes no water was draining out of it. time and growth will tell...we'll see what happens as i backfill the holes through the season.

the yams are about six inches tall now and budding so we should be leafing soon and the spinach and arugula are filling in nicely. the savory is small but growing, there are new shoots of that up as well as a couple of more clumps of gamagrass. progress is good but we're not done yet...wheatgrass, tomatoes and teosinte yet to go in and still no movement on potatoes or onions...we're about sixty-five percent of the way there...still work to do.

just so you know...the middle photo is a chinese yam and the bottom is spinach and arugula...and if you do know sorry for offending your knowledge

Friday, April 23, 2010

asparagus day

the asparagus crowns came fed-ex yesterday and i didn't want to waste time so i planted them today. most growers reccomend raised beds for asparagus because they like to be well drained...but most places don't have the sandy soils we have in places around here, including the campus, so i think we can get away with planting them directly into the ground. i dug down about eighteen inches to the sand to start with, then i mixed in some compost and composted manure with the sand to loosen them up. then i put the asparagus crowns in ( i even got them the right way up) put in more compost and manure, because they are heavy feeders, and covered them with loose soil to a depth of two inches. this left the garden looking like giant moles had been at work with piles of soil everywhere. asparagus just isn't strong enough to push its way up through eight or ten inches of soil so we will have to backfill the holes as the sprouts grow. this will still leave some soil lying around that has been displaced by the compost and manure, but we will use it later to hill the potatoes as they grow. almost like we had a plan.

another bit of exciting news ( for me anyway) is that as i was digging holes for asparagus i turned up an earthworm! first one since i started cultivating the ground last october. so the half-ton of organic matter that i've put into the garden so far ( about five pounds per square foot of area ) seem to be helping. i have some red wrigglers coming to introduce into the garden, but they may have to share their new home with some natives.

the spinach and arugula are chugging right along. another jerusalem artichoke has popped up...that leaves only three of them unaccounted for. the winter savory is finally coming up too...i was concerned. still no onions, that is truly bothersome. i have seeds yet and may have to germinate and transplant some, but it's getting late. the tomato plants have four leaves now...two more and they can be repotted and kept under the growlight until late next month...pretty much on schedule with a couple of snags...nothing unusual in if only the teosinte co-operates...more later.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

up and running

it's been a pretty good week for the garden....we're making progress without too many glitches...i counted nine jerusalem artichokes up this morning ( the top photo is the biggest of the bunch)...i don't believe ther were any last weekend, although i did see them popping up during my weekday visits and put some photos up on facebook...that leaves five unaccounted for...this week should tell that story...the spinach and arugula are coming along too (second photo) i've planted some of each at home and will probably plant spinach every two weeks ( i have a quarter pound of worries there) around here to see how long i can keep it producing and will sow a second crop in the garden on campus if there's time...the runt elphant garlic (photo three) is showing signs of growth so that could be alright...there's a frost warning for tonight and that could cause it some problems...the yams are still dormant and the potatoes aren't up yet so they shouldn't be impacted and the spinach, arugula, and jerusalem artichokes are cold hardy so should have no issues...the last photo is just a comparison shot...and i forgot to mention ( or photograph) that there are five shoots of eastern gamagrass up as well...i am working on germinating teosinte...the asparagus isn't here yet (why not?)...neither are the worms...and wheatgrass goes in next month...overall we seem to be doing okay...we'll make our own luck through work...more as it develops.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


i have been to the garden and we have progress...the top photo is taken from the west side and shows the bed for teosinte and wheatgrass after i turned in eighty pounds of compost and forty pounds of composted manure...i will be seeding the wheatgrass when it gets a bit warmer and will put in the teosinte as it germinates and gets big enough to harden off and transplant. the elephant garlic plant that was yellow because it came up under the mulch has recovered after a week of sunlight...the one that didn't get out of the mulch is still a bit of a runt...we'll see how it does over the next few weeks...the stems are still so tall that i hilled the garlic more just for support... no sign of the yams or the jerusalem artichokes or the gamagrass yet, but it's only april...i'll be more concerned if i don't see them by next month...i planted nine red nordland potato plants ( this isn't a big garden...i will be planting the excess plants in my gardens this year)they are early starters and should be ready by july...i am seriously thinking of aquiring some that start later to see if we can get two crops of potatoes...after all this is about using perennials as staples as much as anything else...the bottom photo is the arugula which is is the spinach, but the uploader for this takes forever so i only put the arugula up...everything survived the rain and hail this week, and there was no need to water this time around...i do believe i will start making a mid-week trip to the garden after work beginning on the fourteenth of this month just to be looking in on things a bit more often...we are starting to be busy and i want to be more in tune with what's going on.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


the sub-tropical, perennial tomatoes (Lycopersicon spp.) have sprouted...i was somewhat concerned about that...but they're up and the growlight is on...they'll be repotted soon and when they're big enough i'll harden them off and put them in the garden ( and probably some in my yard too...i overbought for this garden, even though i usually purchased the smallest ammount possible, so i will be running a sort of control garden in my backyard...double the fun!) the third row of peat-pellets has the annual teosinte Zea mexicana in movement yet, even though i followed the instructions dr. eubanks from duke sent me...hopefully they're viable seeds and just taking their time..its only been five days so i'll wait..i have more seeds around and i have three more strains to germinate yet, plus potatoes to cut tomorrow and plant season's's april though and it's supposed to be cold tonight...fortunately everything that's in the garden today is a cold hardy perennial...shouldn't be affected...tomatoes and teosinte stay inside until next month( at least)...potato entry tomorrow!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

industrial food

here's a graphic from today's new york times that illustrates one of the basic reasons for this garden's existence. you'll need to click on it and then magnify it to get a good look.

Friday, April 2, 2010

new season

i suppose i should have expected weather in the eighties at the end of march and early in april...climate change...but no, mired in oldthink i was expecting some sort of transitional period between seasons...not a leap into the wastes of age betrays me...anyway i was on campus last monday to drop off some paperwork and as i hadn't taken a look at the garden in a couple of weeks i took a stroll over there...i was dismayed to find the elephant garlic defying the had found some light and made the unmulching decision for i spent a few hours there this up..planting...weeding (already!!)...putting in bird tape...marking stakes...the usuual spring stuff...a couple of the garlic plants looked like they needed some sun, but they should be fine...the other two grew so tall trying to get past the mulch that i felt compelled to hill them because i feared the wind and the forecast rain might damage them...i also planted arugula, spinach, and winter savory ( it attracts bees...that's why it's there) the tomatoes are started and will be hardened off and planted later this sign of the chinese yams i planted in the fall, but joe hollis tells me they emerge from dormancy late, so no panic yet...and i still have a bunch of bulbs if it becomes necessary...tomorrow i'm wiring up another fixture for a grow light and starting to work on teosinte...more compost and wheatgrass planting after the middle of this month...potatoes and asparagus as soon as the supppliers send them...the off season is officially over.

it's 12:30 and fed ex just brought my seed i will green them this coming week and plant them next weekend...more later

the top photo is the garden after being opened and planted.
the second is of the beds for onions, arugula, and spinach with the bird tape in place
the third is the beds after preperation for the arugula and spinach.
the fourth is th eelephant garlic after i hilledit.
the fifth is the garlic just after being unmulched.