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Friday Favorite: The Little Things

September 2nd, 2016

One of my favorite things about gardening is that it makes me slow down and notice the little things in nature. Whether it’s the tiny pollinators hovering over the cilantro blooming, or the way different plants change throughout the season. This past week I was pulling the green beans and was fascinated by the nitrogen nodules on the roots.
nitrogen nodules on bean roots
The beans were pulled and layered on the soil right where they were planted. They will smother any weeds and provide a nitrogen rich mulch. There’s no point in taking them to the compost pile when they will break down by next spring. I’m all about finding more efficient ways to accomplish my goals.
mulching with pulled plants
If you have children, gardening can be a fantastic way to get them interested in biology and science. It’s a great learning opportunity, particularly in teaching them about symbiotic relationships. I love knowing that these green beans are harvesting nitrogen and providing it to the plants growing around them and the plants that will follow them. It’s an amazing process and one I am so happy to be able to observe!

What amazing things have you noticed in the garden this week?

Second Flush

September 3rd, 2015

Around the beginning or middle of July, I often seed a second flush of peas, beans, and zucchini. These plants often exhaust themselves and don’t fruit for a long period of time. I really like them, so I find planting a second batch gives me a long season. It also allows me to easily pull out the exhausted plants to replace them with fall crops when they begin to languish.
Second Flush Garden 1
The great thing about a second planting is that the seeds germinate quickly and the plants grow like gangbusters with the heat and long days. I’m always amazed at how quickly they grow and fruit. Zucchini that I seed in May often takes 6-8 weeks to start fruiting. This zucchini started fruiting only four weeks after being seeded.
Second Flush Garden 2
Second Flush Garden 3
Second Flush Garden 4
Succession planting is something that I’m getting better and better at the longer I garden. It really is amazing how much you can grow in a small space when you do it. I find that it also makes it much easier for me to pull up exhausted veggies that I used to let hang on in the garden even with meager harvest (broccoli offshoots ring a bell?). These aren’t the only vegetables I plant in succession, I have lettuce, broccoli, fennel, carrots, beets, and a few others that were seeded throughout the summer as space became available in the garden.

Are you in the habit of planting in succession to lengthen the harvest and maximize your garden space?

Bunches of Beans

August 7th, 2013

The beans in the 5×5 Challenge garden are producing like mad. I harvested a goodly number of them a few days ago and we’ve been enjoying them for dinner ever since. I love these tri-color beans, they add a lot of interest when you’re harvesting.
Beans galore
It’s really hard to believe that only 2 months ago they were barely peeking out of the soil.
bean seedling
purple beans 1
purple beans 2
Bush beans are very prolific garden plants. My little garden only has 2 three foot rows and we’ll probably eat more beans than we want to this summer. Beans are the perfect beginner garden plant. The giant seedlings are very exciting, they grow fairly quickly and they produce like made. I’ve known several beginner gardener who were happiest with their beans. Oddly enough, I don’t grow a ton of beans in the garden. Perhaps I ate so many growing up I’d rather eat chard or kale than beans.

Do you grow beans in your garden? Which is your favorite variety?

Pole Beans vs. Bush Beans

August 18th, 2012

This week, I’ve been reading Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space. I do a fair amount of vertical gardening here at Chiot’s Run because I like the structure that vertical features bring to the garden. They also take up less space, a very important thing when you’re short on garden space for all the things you want to grow.

On Tuesday I read that pole beans outproduce bush beans and decided to see if this was true. Luckily, I have both pole beans and bush beans growing in the garden. The pole beans are growing on a teepee in the lower garden and the bush beans are growing in a row beside the asparagus. I have about the same number of each, perhaps more bush beans than pole beans. The pole beans were planted a week or two after the bush beans.

After harvesting both types of beans, I weighed my harvest. The bush beans produced 11 ounces and the pole beans produced 1 pound 6 ounces. (pole bean harvest on right, bush bean harvest on left).

The nice thing about pole beans is that they produce continually over a longer period of time than bush beans, they will be producing until frost. The bush beans are just starting to bloom for a second time and will probably fade soon after I harvest this batch of beans

I also prefer pole beans to bush beans because they’re easier to pick. The beans are easier to spot and higher since the vines grow vertically.

I always love learning little bits of information like this. Even though I will have more garden space next year, I’ll still be trying to maximize that space in any way that I can. There’s just something about pole beans scrambling up a trellis in the garden.

Do you grow bush beans or pole beans?

Asparagus and Beans – A Winning Combo

July 23rd, 2012

In the past couple years I’ve been reading a lot about permaculture. As a result, I’m always searching for more effective ways to implement it’s ideas into the garden. This spring I was reading a non-permaculture article reading recommended a higher nitrogen fertilizer once harvests stopped and the foliage was allowed to grow.

Instead of adding a high nitrogen fertilizer, I was going to underplant the asparagus with clover. This would both provide nitrogen and protect the soil. Before I got it planted, I ran out of space in the edible garden for my green beans. Off went the lightbulb in my head and I planted them by the asparagus. The asparagus greened up nicely once the beans took root. When the beans are done producing they’ll be pulled and laid around the asparagus to provide an overwintering mulch to protect the soil. If I have comfrey to harvest at that time it’s leaves will be added as well.

I love discovering ways to maximize the small space by layering edibles. An added bonus is saving money by not having to buy a fertilizer. Any time I can keep the circle of the garden closed I’m one happy gardener. Like what goes on my plate, I like knowing exactly where every input in the garden comes from!

If you’re not familiar with permaculture, I’d highly recommend reading about it. Check your local library to see if they have a copy of Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. I had our library’s copy so much that I finally just purchased one. Mr Chiots is reading our copy of this book and is loving it (not bad for a guy that’s not really interested in gardening). He’s already talking of implementing the apple guild next spring in Maine. Perhaps I’ll have him write a blog post about it this winter as he’s planning!

Have you ever heard of permaculture? If so, are you implementing any of it’s principles in your garden?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.