Thursday, May 8, 2008

I dug a carrot bed 1.5 feet by 2.0 surface area in my little plot today- depth of screened and amended soil is 1.5 feet,very slightly mounded to a 70% plateau perhaps 4 inches high. I didn't border this mound with the screened gravel as I did with my latest potato patch, but I may do that later if the pile begins to unravel, though such a modest mountain will probably sink into the ground before it can get much of a start at falling apart. Because the new carrot bed is not very exciting, I've attached a photo of the walled-in potato mound instead. I like the gravel retainer ring because so far it's been keeping the mound smooth and soft, which will make harvesting much easier, and it should do a pretty good job of holding the dirt in the ground when I yank the spuds.

I have a couple of other potato beds- a tall un-walled mound which I expect will collapse to clods and loose dirt when I start pulling potatoes, and a deep brick-bordered bed (you can see part of one wall in the picture) that will give the same neat harvest and consistent replanting it always does (third year of mostly volunteer crops)- but I think the graveled mound will do almost as well, without the expense, effort and zoning debates of building another brick pit. My beloved brick bed- originally built as a fire pit- is over twenty years old and though still quite serviceable, it is showing its age, mainly in the mortar, which is cracking and letting moist dirt work on its increasingly exposed inner surfaces. The necessary repairs would amount to a rebuild, which would mean cleaning bricks and mixing mortar- probably a couple of days work. I can rebuild a gravel-edged mound, refreshed soil and all, in an hour using only a shovel and a 1/4 inch screen, so if this first try works as well as I expect it to, I will probably install gravel rings around all my mounded beds next time I turn them over.

My yellow-fleshed icebox watermelon and small striped eggplant are not doing as well as the potatoes, since nights are still too cold and days are not hot enough- if I can keep them alive another month, I think they'll wake up and start growing. The soil is good and they're properly watered, so all we need is the weather. I may dig a bean patch this weekend, unless I can forget in time. I'm working on that even now.

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