It’s time to write about this year’s garden — plot by plot.
Dedicated gardeners reflect on the past year and I am mostly serious about gardening.
As the garden has grown, so has my knowledge of how to care for the soil and grow crops. Evaluation of the year just past is part of learning.
Plot one was the first dug during spring 1994.
It is dominated by three Burr Oak trees planted from acorns collected the year our daughter graduated from high school. One tree for each of us. It is adjacent to a row of lilac bushes plants in 1994. As drought conditions often plague Iowa, accompanied by scorching heat, it is better to plant some vegetables in a partly shady area. Shade creates a longer growing season for lettuce and reduces the amount of watering needed. The three oaks and lilacs are staying for now, although eventually may be thinned.
On the north side of the plot are some spring flower bulbs transplanted from the Indiana trucking terminal where I worked. They grew in the ditch near Highway 41 and were likely planted by a previous owner. They bloom faithfully each year and need to be dug and separated.
Next to the flowers is what used to be a row of iris. They are dying and what’s left needs to be dug and separated. Only an occasional flower now appears.
The rest of the plot was planted in garlic rescued from the town library. It eventually spread to cover the entire plot. A few years ago I placed tarps over the middle of the garlic patch to store stakes, cages and fencing. Each spring garlic pops up around the tarp perimeter. I harvest it for spring garlic, otherwise let it grow wild.
This year I pulled up one of the tarps and planted Turk’s Turban and Acorn squash. Both produced and some wait on the counter to be used.
This is the first year I tried an annual crop in plot one, and based on the results, I might try more. The near continuous shade makes crop selection the essential dynamic. While we enjoy the spring garlic, we should convert production to a regular, annual cycle of planting and harvesting garlic cloves. It is not too late this year, but with continuous daily work outside home until November, it is doubtful I’ll get a crop in.
Plans for next year: dig up the bulbs, separate and move to a more decorative spot in the yard; try an early spring crop like turnips, beets or radishes; till the entire plot after spring crop, evaluate, and likely plant beans to fix nitrogen in the soil; plant garlic in the fall.