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Garden Report

Sunday, April 26, 2015 - 10:05
The big infrastructure project this year was to remove the odd little concrete sidewalk from the back part of the yard (done) so I could finish installing the raised beds for the square formal garden (done) and then level out the trench where the concrete was (to be done) and make the yard presentable for my literary garden party in June (to be done). The formal garden still needs to have the fountain cleaned and set up to circulate, and I need to lay down some sort of covering for the pathways. (I have a few ideas of mulch-matting sorts of things that will have the effect I want.) The mainstay of the formal garden is herbs, as well as smaller vegetables. A probably incomplete list is: basil (several types) chard, sage, marjoram, oregano, thyme (a couple varieties), tarragon, summer savory, sorrel (2 varieties - very vigorous!), peppermint, garlic, shallots, bunching onions, fennel, dill, parsley, cilantro, lovage, borage, eggplant (3 varieties), kale. I just may have gotten the positioning, number, and varieties of summer squashes right. I decided that rather than scramble to try to set up the corners of the formal garden with their permanent inhabitants (Rosa gallica with alpine strawberries at their feet), I'd stick the various Cucurbitaceae there: summer squashes, one winter squash, cucumbers, and a melon. Three plants to a corner (since there's plenty of room for them to spread out over the edges of the box) including seven different summer squash varieties.The ones that are blooming are already setting fruit (4 of the 7 so far) and they all have plenty of flower buds of both sexes, so I have high hopes of being inundated. The eventual effect is intended to be "fences" of berries (rasp, black, boysen, Marion) in the outer ring which will take a few years to get established. So far only the Boysenberries are dense enough to be fence-like. Eventually I'll need to set up something more durable in the way of supports. These beds then have a wide variety of strawberries at the base. (There are also an assortment of berries along the back fence: blackberries, Boysenberries, blueberries of several types. In theory I've still got a currant and a gooseberry back there although I have a poor record at keeping them alive. Also grapes, although I've yet to bring any to edibility.) Elsewhere in the yard I seem to be making a go at starting half a dozen rhubarb plants as well as the every-happy artichokes. And having planted 12 different varieties of tomato (about a third are cherry tomato, one roma, the rest assorted standard and heirloom) I just might have enough tomatoes. The fruit trees, old and new, all look happy this year. The only one of the new trees (put in last year) not to flower is the apricot and I'll forgive it for now. The pomegranate is flowering this year, the old apple tree has set its usual abundance of fruit as has the old lemon. The quince has maybe a dozen fruits this year. Both the heirloom apples (White Pearmain & Calville Blanc) have set fruit for the first time. The Morello cherry may give me enough for a tart but on further research the Black Tartarian needs a different pollenator so I think next year I'll add a Napoleon as well as a Montmorency. There's room. And both medlar trees are setting over a dozen fruit at this point. The orangery in the side yard will be the focus of the next infrastructure project (but not this year). For now, I'm still waiting for the various citrus trees to settle in enough to start bearing. Thinking about adding a grapefruit and still looking for a standard citron (though I did break down and get a Buddha's Hand). The multi-graft espaliered apple and pear trees are coming along and flowered though I doubt I'll get any fruit yet. They're still rather spindly and are part of the long-term planning for that area rather than expecting immediate returns. So that's it for now. I'll probably plant some more salad things, especially successions of radishes, although I tend to have bad luck with lettuces. I'm not going for a big variety of vegetables, just a focus on the ones that are best home-grown (tomatoes), that I love (squashes), and where I can grow all my own needs (onions).