It’s getting more difficult to maintain any type of consistency here but at least the garden is, to a point, self-sufficient. A few of my earlier implementations are performing immensely well as time- and energy-saving bonuses.
The mulch was initially set to deter the cats from leaving me ‘gifts’ in the raised bed and I experimented with a few measures before settling on the current covering. Bark mulch was first as I’d read the scent would drive them away and it was the only one available in the garden stores in April. Bark mulch only seemed to attract the cats and I later read that it can increase the acidity of the soil; so after more research, I switched to straw mulch, which worked well. However, adding the mulch early meant that the soil stayed extremely pliable and moist. The huge amounts of rain and hot sunny periods were not able to compact or bake the top layers allowing the plants to develop strong roots and benefit from nutrients, a temperate environment, and lots of moisture. Even the worms and other buggies seem to like their home.
Last year, a lot of time was spent watering – sometimes twice a day. Given that I’m not home this year, an investment in a drip-irrigation system was required. I’ll be using it tommorrow for the first time this season, but I’m already looking forward to the time and water saved by having it. I estimate that with the combination of mulch and irrigation, the bed will only require about 10-20% of the water as compared to the previous year. Less water will be required and more moisture will be held – brilliant!
I’ve also been adding dried, crushed eggshells around the fruiting-plants’ bases and used coffee grinds and mowed grass to the leafy plants. The eggshells should provide calcium to prevent bottom-rot while the coffee and grass provides nitrogen for leaf development.
Now that all that is done, there’s really nothing left but to inspect for pests and wait for the fruit and leaves to ripen for harvest. Between you and me, with every moment of free time, I find myself wandering out there to do something…but there’s nothing to do – my babies don’t really need me anymore! It’s a bit difficult for me, but it’s my lesson in learning to relax and do nothing (a talent of Hubs, lol).
Failing the cooperation of my Iphone, these pictures from late last week – early this week will have to suffice. Everything’s practically doubled in that short period of time.