Friends’ & Clients’ Gardens: Tami’s place
These Pictures were taken by Tami and Melody.
This past winter Tami bought fresh vegetables from my garden, and carried a bucket of kitchen garbage to me for my compost every week.
Everything changed when she ate the fresh broccoli I put into her bag. Tami said she didn’t know fresh broccoli wouldn’t stink when cooked. She and her roommate Melody decided it was time to keep their compost at home, and grow some broccoli of their own. They called me in for a consult. First they walked my gardens with me, and took a close look at how I was growing and composting, then I came out to their property and helped them see where potential gardens and compost might be. They had done a pretty good job of determining where their compost should be by themselves, and we talked over possible locations for the garden mounds. I went on my way and they went to work gathering hay, manure, straw, and compost to pile up into Lasagna Mound Gardens.
About 8 weeks later I stopped by for a follow up consult. Their broccoli plants were beginning to get tight in the middle. They had some young tomato plants flowering, and a zucchini plant was aggressively working to swallow the front edge of the garden and the fence they put up. They were getting nice sized zucchini and a yellow squash plant was beginning to fruit as well. Nearly a dozen lettuces were making large heads side by side, and a good number of bean plants were about a week away from flowering.
For a first garden I was extremely impressed at how they had jumped in, worked quickly to form their lasagna garden mounds and were doing a very good job at growing. They had erected a fence and a nice homemade gate for their garden, and put stepping stones in the walkways between their mounds.
Tami and Melody are learning some lessons about plant and insect behavior. Their garden while lovely and productive has some common issues that new gardeners have and some problems also common to new organic gardens or newly organic gardens (for conventional growers who are changing to organic or natural gardening practices).
One real common error a gardener makes, just once… Yeah, I have done this too, is to put too many cucurbits, specifically squash and pumpkin seeds into too little space. Squash plants will overrun the garden. They are that vigorous.
Another issue for newly organic growers is that it may take a few seasons to achieve Balance in the garden. It is good and easy enough to start gardening with the lasagna mounds, and I recommend them as a great start but the balance that we strive for in our growing environments, our little ecosystems, that balance takes a little more time than it takes to build mounds and get them growing. After a few seasons of natural growing, and working on the homestead’s ecosystem, learning when and what to plant, and when to cut things down, and even when or in what sort of weather to expect insect infestations all of that stuff becomes more predictable. The gardener becomes more intuitive, and some problems that new gardens experience don’t reoccur in following seasons as the gardens and their surroundings attract some natural predatory soil organisms, insects, frogs, birds, and reptiles.
Tami and Melody have started a young flock of layer hens. (Their eggs have extraordinary flavor.) They are growing food and they are composting. They have planted some young fruit trees, and they plan to put in more soon. They don’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. They experienced only small insect issues during the winter/spring growing season. In one instance bean plants that were growing beneath their zucchini vine were losing leaves to chewing insects. The beans not covered by the zucchini were not being chewed. So they were able to ascertain that one of their pest problems was relative to the proximity of the two plants (creating too much shade, moisture and good cover for the insects).
As the summer came and the winter/spring vegetables lost their warm dry days and cool dry nights Tami and Melody made a nearly seamless transition to summer vegetables growing okra, long beans and peas. They have had a good bit of stink bug damage on their peas, and mad aphids on their beans. It is a challenge to grow once summer weather is here, and lots of S. Florida gardeners give it up for the summer. Tami and Melody exceeded my expectations for their first year vegetable garden. I am looking forward to seeing how they do next season, which is just about here. First plantings for our fall season can start as early as August.