Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Where The Beans Were

Green beans grew in this bed this year.  One row of Tavera and one row of Romano provided us with a generous harvest.  Several bags of these beans are now in our freezer.  When snow covers the ground, our own beans will make a welcome addition to mealtime and provide a connection to a successful harvest.

Using fallen leaves as mulch was an experiment here this year.  Once the beans had sprouted, the leaves were gathered in the woods and placed whole around the bean plants.  The combination of lush growth by the beans and the covering leaf mulch totally eliminated weed growth.  This is how the bed looked after the beans were pulled at final harvest.  Tree leaves form an airy mulch that conserves moisture, prevents weed seed germination and does not promote plant rot.  It also looks much better than the grass clippings under the adjacent squash plants.

In the past, leaves forced through a wire screen have been used to mulch our peppers and basil plants.  The finer screened leaves rot down during the growing season and are simply turned under after harvest.  Time needed to grind the leaves is the only disadvantage to this method.  When the beans needed mulch, there was too much to do so screening was omitted.  Today, I needed fine leaf mulch and the time needed to prepare it was available.  Swirling gloved hands over the leaf covered screen is not an unpleasant activity.  Firm pecs and perfect mulch are the result of a few minutes work.

These recently planted kale plants were rescued from a smothering growth of purslane and other persistent weeds.  A layer of fine leaves will keep new weeds away and allow the kale to grow without competition.  Not every kale seed planted germinated.  The ones that did sprout now look like a character from the Chinese alphabet.

A quick pass with the stone fork made this soil ready for buckwheat seed and a light covering of compost.  We will then return the wire cage sides to protect this fine dirt from turkeys seeking a dust bath.  A wonderful morning spent in the garden resulted in sixty square feet of prime garden soil prepared for next season's crop.  The kale was also treated well and I have, for the moment, avoided owning a pair of saggers.  Working out at the gym does not give the same satisfaction.

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