maandag 13 juni 2016

Amazing harvest already... 2016.

The harvest of this season, up till now, was already completely unexpected and overwhelming. In the new raised bed we grew potatoes, cabbages and green beans.
In our post: 'Stone Dust, Stardust', we talked about how we made the soil for the second raised bed. We sieved it and mixed it with our compost. We never had expected that this would lead to such a harvest as it did. Our remark: 'After a few crops, the soil and the compost are accustomed to each other and benefit from each other's proximity'... sais it all. What we had expected was that things would turn out like in our first raised bed, where the soil and the compost needed far more time to come to a fruitful combination.

March 11, 2016. The second raised bed with green beans, red cabbages and potatoes.

How much?

Because I was so astonished I was not prepared and forgot to measure how many kilo´s of potatoes we harvested. It was a bucket full, from three potato plants. And I picked tho buckets with beans already, so they cannot be weighted anymore. What I can tell about this is that there was at least one big meal for one person on one plant. And then of course you leave the small beans hanging. (Imagine, at least one meal of beans from only one seed.) The three red cabbages where okay and where from seedlings we had sown our selves... (not from plants from the market- we talked about the difference in quality before in our post: 'Seeds and species'.) .
Maybe I can measure the kilo's next season, when this ever should repeat it-selves. For now I can only tell about what my eyes did see. And they did not see this before.

How could this be? And if we find the reason why, can we than repeat this? Maybe it was the sieving that brought air into the soil? Or was it the loss of stones? So much compost we did not add. And no manure at all. We just did it 'the Elaine Ingham way'. What magic is this?

Must we admit that she is right? Yes I guess we must. She sais the soil is mineral, the soil contains all the nutrients a plant needs. The only thing you must do is to help the plant with active organic matter, to decompose/dissolve these nutrients and make them available for plant life.

And this is what we did actually. It was so simple... So simple. To simple to be true?

June 11, 2016. More sieved soil on top and later mixed with the lower layer.

From December 2015 up till June 2016:

December 8, 2015. The first raised bed with cabbages and unions planted.
Wild strawberries along side that last all storms and weathers.
When they get enough water they thank you with lots of  small sweet fruits.
December 8, 2015. The start of a second raised bed.
March 11, 2016. Three green 'Lombarda' cabbages in a 60 liter barrel.
March 11, 2016 The second raised bed covered to let weeds hatch and die, cabbages and potatoes planted.  Big barrels along the path (on a wall to 'terras' the difference in height) with green and red cabbages. The green do very well, the red seem to like more space and grow very slow... but finally FOUR months later... 
See following pictures:
July 11, 2016.

April 21, 2016. Many weeds and flowers round the garden.
The closer to the garden, the more.
April 21, 2016. Cabbages planted in the third raised bed. The green beans come up.
May 11, 2016. Beans and Cabbages on there way.
May 11, 2016. The first raised bed.
Poles for green beans in new sieved soil, mixed with compost.
May 27, 2016. Red cabbage in the second raised bed. This specie, that we sow ourselves, first makes huge leaves and a core later. It holds water under the leaves and attracts lots of snails.
The potato harvest:

June 1, 2016. The second raised bed: I saw that the many ants (with which we always have to cope in a new garden) had ruined the leaves of the potato plants. I could not see if the plants where at their end, thus dying. And when the plants die it is time for harvesting. Or where the ants the cause of the trouble? Some potatoes came above the ground already. So I decided to dig them up.

June 1, 2016. One bucket with big potatoes from tree potato plants.
In June and July:

June 4, 2016. Green cabbage almost ready for harvest. How big can they grow? And do the ants allow us to wait for that, or should we intervene?
June 6, 2016. At the right, Melon in barrels... along the shade cloth,
which hopefully is just enough to keep the sun from heating up the barrels.
June 10, 2016. Green beans. One meal on one plant.

About our post: A vegetable patch in the Alentejo. 2011-2012

July 29, 2012. Drought in the vegetable patch at the north of our house.
In November 2011 we started a new vegetable patch in the Alentejo, where I cleared the slope on the north side of our house. Besides the fact that this appeared to be the worst spot around our house... because of the strong winds that brought all extremes to the slope... there was the lack of good compost that must have shipwrecked this garden. The weeds took over in only two weeks and did what had to be done; cover the soil to keep it moist.

This is how the seasons are, here in the Alentejo. In April all grasses and weeds are on there best, flowers start blooming. In July this all has reached its highest height, up to 1,5 meter, and has turned to straw. In October all straw is gone. Eaten, mowed or crumbled... but mostly eaten. When you clear the land, when the weeds start growing in November up to February, almost no weeds will grow there in April. So you can claim the space to grow your vegetables. Than in the summer the sun will burn and drought your veggies... because there is no cover. Mulch will not help you enough. It is to dry for green beans or cabbage. And without compost, even your beans will not grow. In spite of the fact that they make there nitrogen nodules, 'to improve the soil'. And forget the cabbage. It will not find the necessary minerals in the soil... So, now microbiologist Elaine Ingham sais...: 'Not because they are not there, but because they can not be dissolved, because of the lack of active organic matter.'

But at that moment, in the year 2012, my disappointment about my new vegetable patch was a fact. I thought this soil was no good... not better than to grow weeds. So we turned to growing our vegetables in pots, in our newly made compost only. later we found out that we needed more minerals to make a good crop. So we added stone dust to this compost. (Our post: 'How we use our compost.')

By experience we came up with the larger raised beds, where big plants have more space, and the beds could be covered when needed. Our post: 'Stone Dust, Stardust'.

Not that we do not grow in pots anymore. These we use in the greenhouse and some larger barrels we can use in the garden. In pots we put more compost than in the raised beds, because this clayey soil of the Alentejo is compacting very easily, and leaves no air in a pot.

This, growing in restricted areas, we did to be able to make the cultivation more controllable. Weeds are everywhere. But when you pull them out in a pot or a raised bed, you can see what you are doing, and there is a limit on where the weeds can go.



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