Garden

My go-to garden ground cover

Many, many times previously, I’ve mentioned my prefered ground cover of buckwheat and clover. Since even immature buckwheat helps soil structure, I tried to sneak in one last planting before frost with seeds from the earlier plants:

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To be completely honest, I’ve planted a few different clovers and I’m not longer aware which variety is depicted above. It is either dutch white, crimson or medium red clover.

Since the first frost occurred, all of the buckwheat is gone as I explained here. Yet the clover is still thriving and a deep green!

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My companion plantings

I promise to do a recap on the justification for the companion plantings soon, but I want to show the progress of the plants so far.

Before I begin, I want to state a few general companion plants that I use everywhere.

Clover is planted with all of the nitrogen hungry plants, especially hops. I also mulched around the persistent clover in the asparagus and blueberry beds as they too are pretty heavy feeders.

In the fallow garden beds, I grow clover under buckwheat to utilize the nitrogen fixation of the former along with the immense soil conditioning properties of the latter. Both provide nectar to my honeybees as well as native pollinators.

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Now for the specific cases.

Geraniums and oregano with grapes:

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Nasturtium, marigolds, basil (not shown, but it now towers over the asparagus) and dill with asparagus:

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Strawberries, bay laurel and yarrow with blueberries. Strawberries were a partial failure because I let the bareroot shipment begin rotting before planting and yarrow is a failure as it never germinated… or I misidentified them with weeds and either pulled them or chopped them with a weedwacker while trimming the garden aisles.

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My king companion so far:

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Genus Persicaria but species unknown. When it flowers I should be able to determine the species. This weed has drawn most of the japanese beetles. I will let it grow wherever it pops up as it allows me to more tightly focus my soapy water extermination efforts of said beetles.

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Problems with pests

Two plants in my garden are getting hammered by something.

I can venture a guess that deer are responsible for eating every single clover leaf as it is nearing maturity leaving untouched stems as well as the few flowers that have had a chance to develop. Of the potential wildlife culprits, turkey are ruled out as we have only ever seen 1 on the farm in 20 years of owning the land. I do not know enough about fox behavior to rule them out. Rabbits are a prime suspect but I feel the distance from the farm to the nearest brushy area is too far for rabbits to feel safe in traversing that distance. Leaving stems uneaten puts deer and groundhogs at the top of the list. I have scoured for tracks and found none!

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I must not procrastinate on fencing the garden any longer, which I will do this week and write a handful of posts regarding its design.

 

The pest eating the hops is a bit tricker as they are likely bugs as the hops are elevated up a small string of hemp twine beyond the reach of any animals, even skilled climbers. A few vines are completely defoliated at the end of the leaf petiole. If my ruined grape plants are any indicator, japanese beetles tend to skeletonize leaves rather than consume them entirely. Most of the documented pests like slugs or beetles still leave holes in leaves, not entirely defoliate the plants. Maybe some sort of caterpillar? I counted over 20 different species of butterflies in the garden this morning.

So with the hops, I am not entirely sure. However I have networked with monthly informal meetings of local growers and will ask around!

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I present to you: Bronn, my newest sellsword

Sorry, I’ve been re-reading A Song of Ice and Fire.

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These guys and gals have moved into my garden in huge numbers which makes me very happy. I’ve noticed the brown mantises like to hang around the hops, blueberries and barn wall that faces the garden. These huge green ones  have flocked to the blooming buckwheat.

 

Unfortunately, I held one up to a huge group of japanese beetles but she showed no interest 😦

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The hops are flowering!

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