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January 19, 2010

The problem with new garden areas are that they are new.  Don’t laugh, I have gardened in this spot for 15 years and it still acts like a new garden spot to me.  Finally last year, I did not feel like a visitor anymore to this patch.  My old garden, affectionately known as the Main Garden gives off vibes that make me want to lie down and take a nap between the rows, and I don’t mean a dirt nap, I already have that spot picked out and it is up in the pasture.  Me and New Garden haven’t been getting along these past few years, and I will take the blame.  I have been too demanding, and now it is time to stop.  So last year I made plans for this year which was next year when I made the plan, well anyway, you know what I mean.  The weed pressure was getting to me, so I decided to go back to my old ways of  cover cropping and fallowing a good portion of the garden.  New Garden will be smaller by half this year and probably maybe forever.  Managing the garden this way will take the heat off  both of us.  Of course, this means now I will have no excuse not to have a weed free garden in the half that I will plant this year.  He He.  So feel free to dig this post out and remind me this summer, when I start whining about being behind, OK?

According to my notes, I tilled, amended the soil with lime, and seeded the cover crop during the first week of October.

cereal rye - "new garden" 2010 fallow

cereal rye - "new" garden 2010 fallow area

Daily I am hauling stable cleanings from Della and the resident equine to the fallow area for sheet composting.

cereal rye, 2009 corn stalks

I have strayed away somewhat from cereal rye because its wonderful attribute of being able to grow throughout the winter was giving the voles a toe hold.  And that was beginning to get on my nerves.  They eat a lot of root vegetables in the winter. 😦  I started using oats because they winterkill, leaving less cover for the voles.  So while oats were doing a good job of keeping the voles discombobulated, they don’t have the aggressive root growth I was needing to keep the soil opened up.  So in my plans my scheme was to plant one double row of carrots in this garden for winter harvesting.  The rest of the carrots and root crops are in the Main Garden.   And hoping to thwart the voles, I didn’t plant the rye too thick near the carrot rows.  My plan has worked.  Voles love the cover of the pasture nearby, and they hate tilled soil, so the carrots are smack dab in the middle of the garden.  The rye is doing its job of keeping the soil covered but it isn’t as thick as sod, so the voles aren’t venturing that far afield for a carrot snack.  So far… .

cereal rye 2010 fallow

You can see in this photo that the cover crop is deep green and growing a little, where the sod in the pasture nearby is light green, semi-dormant, and set back a little by the winter weather.

carrots under deer netting

Here is the  deer and vole-free zone.  Another drawback of the cereal rye is that it provides winter grazing for the deer and elk.  So the deer netting that protects the root crops in the summer must be put back in place in the winter after I hill the root crop rows with soil for frost protection.   It has been the most effective and inexpensive way for me to keep our crops out of harms way until we can harvest them.  It’s lightweight and easy to move when needed.

fresh from the garden

Using the garden as our “root cellar” takes a lot of work out of growing root crops.  To lessen our dependence on outside feed sources we grow enough roots to take the place of winter grain feeding for our family cow.  Storing her roots alone would take a huge root cellar.  I’m lucky to be gardening in a clime that allows this.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010 6:33 am

    I have a pretty small garden (6-4×10 raised beds in the back) and I’m considering letting at least half of them go fallow for part of a season each year and planting with cover crops. It’s not that I can’t keep up with them, I mean I don’t have much space at all. But I know that my soil and my crops will be healthier if I do this. I’m hoping to get some cover crops planting this fall in other areas that I migh be able to make edible gardening spaces.

  2. January 19, 2010 8:51 am

    My carrots this year were all knotted up and ugly. Not to mention tasteless. And I don’t mean tasteless in a Paris Hilton sort of way. Although carrots with hair extensions and a miniskirt WOULD be pretty amusing…

    Your carrots, on the other hand, are beautiful!

  3. January 19, 2010 8:55 am

    I learn so much from you. Thank you!

  4. January 19, 2010 10:41 am

    Coming here is always like a taste of spring.


  5. January 22, 2010 7:48 am

    I fallow mine a little at a time just leaving a section each year so it at least has a bit of rest.

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