Garden

Forgotten Garlic Mystery

Has anyone ever planted garlic and left it for 2.5 years?

I actually entirely forgot they existed until the weed whacker emitted the distinct aroma.

I’m going to harvest them like normal but the subterranean growth is a complete mystery. Hopefully if not in an edible state, the bulbs will be viable for planting next year!

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Current Currant Hormonal Situation

The roots are sending out new leaves which is not a good sign for the existing stems. It indicates a hormone imbalance of cytokinin over auxin. Auxin is greatest at the tips of woody-stemmed plants and travels from top to bottom. Its relationship with healthy buds prevents dormant buds from activating in the stem as well as the roots.

Cyokinin originates in the roots and is the hormone responsible for telling the undifferentiated cells in buds to start dividing. I’m not sure what mechanism is responsible for differentiating what those cells become. The process occurs when cyokinin from the roots is not kept in check by auxin: when plants are young or when the auxin flow is broken in the instance of a damaged stem.

Basically, new growth from the roots indicates that the stems are not producing auxin which in turn shows that they are dead (or at least extremely stressed) ūüė¶

Non-herbaceous plants fascinate me in that regard. Hormones act like logical conditions in artificial intelligence programming!

Well, except for the artificial part.

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They survived…kinda

All of my non-herbaceous perennials dropped their leaves during a poorly timed dry spell last summer. Of course the first weekend that I could get out there, the rain clouds opened up while I was en route. Last year was a terribly executed attempt at absentee gardening.

At least the goosberries survived fully which may have something to do with their location receiving the most shade:

One of the raspberries survived as well. Nothing from the blackberries so far.

The hops are sprouting out of the soil like the most vigorous asparagus I have ever seen. I’ve read the tender shoots can be harvested and prepared exactly like asparagus:

Asparagus itself shows no sign of life.

The currants clung to life:

The current currant situation is a great opportunity to nerd out in plant biology in the next post.

Mulberries, filberts, blackberries and grapes are all lifeless currently. The blueberries are in the same state. A thick mat of an unknown, lush sedge (maybe a grass?) that I could not find them until after multiple winter weeding sessions. I believe that lush, unknown sedge has me eating the words published in this exuberant post.

To end on a positive note- Constant winter skirmishes in the war to regain territory lost to the occupant weeds in the previous year of neglect has made the garden beds visible at last:

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First visit of the year summary

On my first visit of the year, I made 2 new friends and knocked out a slew of tasks:

  • Replaced failed and failing segments of garden bed walls.
  • Made the acquaintance of two volunteers of the pest patrol team.
  • Cleaned up the residual hops from last year.
  • Installed ~ 20 hops trellises.
  • Sprayed all garden beds with an herbicide that targets foliage
    • Just diluted vinegar
    • I avoided spraying the hops, currants and gooseberries as they were flushing leaves.
    • My strategy is spray everything else indiscriminately since the herbicide works by desiccating foliage without harming the stems of perennials, the soil or roots.
    • Next weekend will be followed up with a planting of buckwheat and clover to outcompete anything that tries to come back

Then turkey season will keep me occupied until my next visit in May. Until then, I have plenty to keep me busy posting in the meantime!

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War against weeds – Long overdue update

A campaign was finally launched to regain the ground lost in the garden due to 2 years of neglect. With all of the rain this spring, the garden was overrun by chest-high grasses, weeds and even a few trees consisting of locust, walnut, ailanthus and an elm of some sort. It was in such bad shape that the terraced garden beds could not be located!

Three hours with the weedwacker is what it took to be able to find the original garden beds. Then another 2 hours was spent pulling weeds by hand.

The invasion of one interesting weed seems to have been beneficial. It had a fleshy stem from which many spatulate leaves originated. It formed dense thickets that collapsed into dense mats. Shallow roots allowed single-handed removal of entire mats. The uprooted mass could be rolled into a self-containing bail resembling hay. Some sort of barb scratched the daylights out of skin and caused a mild reaction to the irritation that lasted a few hours. Water content of this plant seemed to be incredibly high as it felt very lush and fleshy, easily bruised but very heavy. They should compost beautifully!

On that note, the massive amount of uprooted plant matter was piled at the end of the garden beds. Or more accurately, the bricks/bails of the aforementioned weed were used in a weird sort of biological masonry. The two purposes of this exercise were providing a marker to locate the garden beds during the next battle as well as to burn out the invading weeds as decomposition produces heat and nitrogen.

Over 3 yards of mulch was used in the garden, to reclaim the boundary mulch bed that contains the grapes and brambles, and to supplement the vacant tree beds created 2 years ago. More grapes and Rubus brambles were added. Five pounds of buckwheat was spread in the garden beds as a biological weapon against re-encroachment of the weeds that were just cut or removed.

Many of those tree beds are no longer vacant!

Those new trees plus a surprising find after completing the cleanup efforts will be in the next posts.

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Absentee Gardening was more absent than I intended…

Apathy and laziness turned my plans of absentee gardening into a feral patch of land. Installing hops trellises was the last time the garden received any attention whatsoever. Thankfully the individual who mowed the small barn yard area had the foresight to just steer clear of the garden as he did not know the exact locations of the boundary plants. As a result, the grass in the walkways is knee to waist high. I made quite the mess for myself!

Luckily I was able to get some lines in the ground for hops. Otherwise the garden ran wild this year

Luckily I was able to get some lines in the ground for hops. Otherwise the garden ran wild this year

I could blame being busy but the undeniable truth is I just did not make the time to get out to the farm. To be fair to myself, I did make it out for the first scheduled maintenance to find my weedwacker unable to remain running. Blisters and a torso that was sore for a week speaks to my frustrations with having to start the machine so often. After taking it to an expert, I learned it was pretty much shot as too much air was mixing in due to non-replaceable parts wearing with over a decade of use. From then on, I just ignored the problem. Rest in Peace friend (despite requiring a constant battle of having to constantly change line only for it to get stop feeding when it melted together only to run out of fuel when everything was finally working properly).

The major negative points:

  • Pokeweed. Pokeweed everywhere.
  • Ailanthus.¬†Tree of Heaven’s everywhere.
  • Walnuts. Yes…walnut seedlings in the garden. I love walnuts so I may just try and transplant them, but the production of allelopathic juglone in fruit and veggie gardens is concerning.
  • Asparagus are utterly thriving. However it is now apparent that a few of the plants are female despite the nurseries best effort to provide only males. With 47/50 crown survival rate, I’ll still so¬†satisfied with the plants that I am happy to give a recommendation for Nourse Farms.
  • Cascade hops are thriving, centennial are decent, all other are “meh”. No training was done beyond leaving the¬†hops¬†to find¬†the trellises so there are huge ground level mats of hops vegetation which inefficiently consumed large amounts of nitrogen and nutrients. Next year, ruthless pruning will be done.

However a few positives came of my inaction:

  • Where I originally thought invading¬†grasses were knee high in the garden beds, I found most of those were plants from the aisles whose immense weight caused them to lay down over the beds preventing further weed invasions. Similarly, the wild mat of hops growth served the same role.
  • The vast amount of grass clippings created with my borrowed weed wacker gave me plenty of nitrogen and potassium-rich material to pile on the now-unrecognizable boundary bed. The hope here is that the clippings will burn away all the vegetation that has encroached into the mulch.
  • After mowing the aisles I found yet¬†another¬†healthy and happy volunteer pumpkin. I’ve planted exactly zero pumpkins and have had more than 80 successfully grow!
  • I thought a late frost killed my 1 year old mulberry trees, but they rebounded beautifully with nearly full leaf sets. Even the hazelnuts are bouncing back although with much less vigor.

Now that hunting season is back, I have more motivation to go to the farm and generate some fresh content.

As soon as I can get my thoughts written down and organized into a series of posts, I’ll share a hunting trip that was one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far!

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First Check on the Spring Garden

Wanting to let the sun heat up the farm and beehives, I planned to perform the desperately needed landscaping maintenance on the garden aisles. However the weedwacker would not continue running instead shutting off a after about 40 seconds of idling, or whenever I opened the throttle at all. The blisters on three fingers and the intense DOMS in my shoulder blade attest to how many times I got it started. Was it bad gas mixture that sat all winter? Was it the carburetor that a knowledgeable mechanic found to be on its last leg a few months ago? Either way, my desire to be independent from petroleum powered machinery was reiterated and the most time-consuming task on my to-do list was not attainable.

So I spent the time wandering and weeding the garden beds. The hops and asparagus were already sending shoots out of the ground while the buds of grapes and blueberries were beginning to swell.

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Emerging Asparagus

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Emerging, nitrogen hungry hops with symbiotic, nitrogen-providing clover companion planting

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Swelling grape buds

Notice the similarities between young hops and asparagus shoots? They can be harvested and prepared in the exact same manner. I will elaborate on this more in the future.

 

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