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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Heap of Garden Updates

Remember the"heap" gardening experiment last year?

A rather simple concept it began; piling up garden trash in the same place every year, burying it at the very bottom of the heap, which is covered with a soil layer.  The decomposing organic matter composts in place, enriching the soil with earthworm castings and micro-nutrients.
The growth potential is no less than amazing,  here's what the "heap" looks like now!
The Heap 2012
And yes, it is HUGE, at about 12 feet wide and 20 feet long.  We have Hubbard squash, cantaloupe, cucumbers, and Spaghetti squash all growing on the heap.  Hm..a few pumpkins too.  Imagine that. Flowers everywhere, some like this one.

Squash? Pumpkin? Cantaloupe?....  I know, a flower!

It seems that even with the strange, even weird weather, the garden is proceeding along just fine!
 The garlic is high,  see these scapes? Straightened out, some of them are over five feet high.
          Although garlic scapes  are wonderful to eat in stir-fries or salads,  I'm letting these  super- scapes ripen so I will have a new supply of bulbils  to propagate more of  this specific garlic.  When the florets develop bulbils, and ripen, they will be harvested and dried for a couple of weeks. The small bulbils can be planted this fall,  a couple of weeks after harvesting. 

Very tall Garlic Scapes

Let's look at the spuds!  We have four varieties,  all hilled up nicely, aren't they?  The plants look small, but the hills are huge.  Quite a change from the soggy spring mud isn't it?  Nary a weed in sight, too! Well, almost! Looks like more work sprouting!

Four Varieties of Spuds growing in the Fog
We have four varieties of spuds planted in this patch.  See? It's right  beside the heap.
 "Gold Rush", "Yukon Gold",  "Kennebec" and an old Heritage white potato variety called "Pimpernel". Last year we bought 2 lbs of "Pimpernel" seed potatoes as an experiment and  ended up with a wheelbarrow full of potatoes.  We saved some of the seed to replant,  and this year we have two long rows-- happily growing.

Sweet corn in the foggy morn seems to be doing fine too--the leaves on this corn are unbelievable, over 4" wide!   It, too, is growing happily.  No wonder, it is heavily mulched. Last year this same variety, by the end of the growing season, had  reached close to  8' tall. 
Sweet corn doing just fine! 

Off to the beanery we go, where purple and yellow beans grow.  Not a weed in this heavily mulched intensive-grow style bean bed!  Beans are ready to pick!

These are yellow wax beans;  the Purple ones  are way down  there.....

Let's hop on  over to the tomato patch.  As you can see, it's a jungle!
Tomato Jungle

A compact, prolific Heritage tomato plant   "Sophie's Choice"
  One of our  most interesting experiments this season  is a  Heritage tomato variety named "Sophie's Choice".     It is a prolific tomato,  a very compact plant--and has, at last count, at least a dozen good-sized tomatoes on it.  Curiously, one is already beginning to ripen.   We will be saving seeds from this amazing tomato plant as the tomatoes ripen on the vine.  It seems to be a determinate type, unusually efficient, compact, and happily,--- a  very early variety.    We have to wonder if the ongoing progressive  ripening  as opposed to ripening en masse caused this amazing  tomato variety to fall out of favour with commercial growers.  Their loss, our gain.

Well, that's  about it for the garden update except for the carrots, cabbage, tomatilloes, Swiss chard, lettuce, onions, peas, dill, zucchini,  novel pumpkins -and THE turnip.  
Yes, we only had ONE turnip sprout. It's growing quite happily.   Go figure.  ONE seed out of a hundred.  Maybe Uncle Mac   who has all kinds of weird stuff happening over at the shed  can get Farm Girl to explain that one!

For our resident gardener dedicated to all things beautiful  I have to add one of her favourite garden things, a spotted lily.  Know why?

Spotted Asian Lily
She graciously took the photo of this pink Calla lily for me.    
 We really needed this special picture for our friend Glory Lennon, the brilliant gardening zeitgeist over at Glory's Garden.  I hereby offer,  as promised...a  pink Calla lily, and yes, we grew it, not in the garden, but in a pot, right outside the door!

Calla Lily            photo by  w.l.kukkee 2012

  Kind of short, isn't it?  Here at Incoming Bytes we all know that with all things growing,  both beautiful and good things come in small packages!

Is that Incoming I hear?  


  1. I see no fencing---why are you not losing crops to critters? We need to know!

    Great post btw!

    1. Thanks, Mac! Great observation, no fencing of any kind. I have a scarecrow for the deer ( equates to a dangling white danger signal comparable to whitetail deer's raised tail ) with dangling CD's which also causes a laser light show if there's any breeze. We also have perimeter quad trails which may discourage some--and walk them daily with the pups for exercise. Other than that, the critters are free to come and go Thanks for commenting! ":) ~R

  2. Love-love-love your garden! Everything is growing so nicely and nary a weed in sight. Who's the garden zeitgeist???

    1. Thanks, Glory, it does look healthy doesn't it? No fertilizers, only mulch...and I think we must sprout a new zeitgeist every year. Wendy's got the greener thumbs, methinks! Hope you like the real Calla! ":) ~R

  3. Heaps and zeitgeist... I am having flashbacks!

    1. Hi, Alexandra, welcome, that kind of stuck, didn't it? Too funny! The zeitgeist can indeed be found on the top of any heap if seeds are planted carefully on it...":))

  4. Sir Raymond, What a beautiful garden and so huge!! I am a true believer in that intensive gardening when you have a gold mine of nutrients underneath. Things seem to be healthy and more pest resistant. Thanks for sharing such joyful pictures! :-)


    1. Hi Julie! Thanks! I'm glad you like the pics!
      I'm totally with you on the concept of healthy plants being more pest resistant. Nature attacks the weak to dispose of them.

      We have very few pests, and we're organic- no sprays or herbicides of any kind. No commercial fertilizer has ever been used on our gardens.
      The concept of heavily mulching everything seems to provide more than enough nutrients. The earthworms love it! Crops are rotated from bed to bed and we use intensive cross-planting with just enough spacing to allow for additional mulching at any time for weed control.
      The paths and walkways between the beds are very heavily mulched, when it is trampled and walked on enough-and broken down--it goes up on the beds.
      After the garden season is over, new and additional mulch is applied. For planting, the interface 'rotten' layer is left on the beds. Minimum tillage is required for planting and mulch is added as the size and growth of the plants allows.
      It seems the results of this method speak for themselves.
      I think the only thing that could make this process better is access to a lot of natural composted manure. Can you imagine the potential growth with that addition too? ":) Thanks for commenting!

  5. My hubs would be quite jealous! I'm getting hungry. . .

    1. haha, The feast shall be ready in about 4 weeks or so...":) Thanks for visiting ! ~ R

  6. Hi Raymond and what a absolutely beautiful garden. I am officially jealous. Would you mind sharing how big that beautiful patch is?


    1. Hi Mike, thanks! I've never officially measured them but the garden is probably close to 150 ft long x80' wide, and the spud patch is closer to 250' or longer. Width is about 50' wide.
      We also have another, smaller potato patch that isolated for specific potato experiments.
      psst...gardens always look better in photos...hahaha Thanks for admiring it! ":) ~R

  7. RK...I am so impressed by your magnificent garden and NO FENCING !!! I would have deer mowing everything down without my fence. I don't see how you do it. You must have an inside edge with the garden spirits. Do you converse with them? Have you ever read about Findhorn? They work with the garden spirits to weed, grow, move around. You name it they do it. I know that is your secret :) Have a great weekend and don't get lost in the tomato patch. Take your cell phone with you! Blessings....VK

    1. Hi Vk, thanks, I'm surprised the deer don't mow it down too--it seems to have avoided tragedy somehow...Perhaps there is some subliminal reason I don't realize. I haven't had fencing on this garden for at least 5 or 6 years now..interesting isn't it? We must think more about this, I have heard about Findhorn, interesting --but I have no genuine knowledge of them as such. Perhaps Mother Nature blesses us-is it necessary to knowingly participate?
      About getting lost in the tomato patch, it is a distinct possibility. I'll be careful...":) Thanks Vk! ~R

  8. This isn't just a garden, this is a FARM. My goodness but it's huge. I bet you never buy any produce from a store. But tell me something Raymond, what is that "thing" in the tomato field?

  9. Hi, Conny! This whole place is 160 acres but the area shown really is just gardens, the photos make them look big don't they....haha. Actually we do seldom buy produce except for greens in the winter-and we're working on that one. ":)
    The "thing" at the end of the tomato patch is a simple garden scarecrow. Looks great in the fog doesn't it? ":) Thanks for commenting ":) ~R

    1. The scarecrow looks weird Raymond. It look like it has a face, with a baby bib and a baby hat. Is that right?
      You're so fortunate that you live with so much land around you and are able to grow everything yourself. Do you have an orchard too?

    2. haha...too funny, Conny. The scarecrow really does have a "face", my little grandsons drew it on there with black marker as a fun project......and yes, it does look totally weird because it is weird.
      It really is the equivalent of a....small stuffed pillow head, with an old Tee-shirt draped over a cross-stick for shoulders.

      I suspect it is successful because the white Tee-shirt flaps in the wind which looks somewhat like the raised long white tail of the white-tailed deer we have here--that is their warning signal for danger.
      Also, we hang a few old Cd's on strings--they create a 'laser light show' in any breeze.
      We do have apple trees, (17 ?) cherries, 3 pears, grapes, plums, honeyberries,(something like blueberries) white currants, red currants, black currants, and raspberries. Hm... I guess it's an orchard... ":) We are indeed blessed to be able to grow most of our own food. Thanks again for visiting, Conny! ":)

  10. Hi Ray,

    Nice heap!

    Your Sophie's Choice tomato plant looks just like mine!

    Funnily enough, you mentioned to me that your Pimpernel potatoes weren't getting potato beetles while the other ones were (now, this was a couple of weeks ago, so things may have changed in your garden). Anyhoo, I have three varieties: Pimpernel, Superior and Russet Burbank, and the ONLY plants with potato bugs are the Pimpernels.

    I have a friend who raises sheep, and dyes the wool with natural dyes. She is experimenting this year to see if potato bug larvae can be used as a pigment source, similar to the cochineal insect of South America. I'll keep you posted. The fun never ends in these parts.


    1. Hi Wendy, welcome to Incoming Bytes! Nice to see you!

      Isn't that strange about your Pimpernels? Yes, at that time, Pimpernels of mine showed no potato beetles, the Gold Rush potatoes had the all. Since that time it seems they have become equally attractive to the beetles, I'm not sure why.

      I take them off daily, knocking them off and collecting them in plastic pail, and add water. I let it sit in the sun a couple of days. Why?
      I have been using a natural biological warfare approach, after that "potato beetle water" sits in the sun for a few days, I pour it along the potato rows and on the plants. It smells worse than terrible, but there is method to my madness.
      I did this experiment a few years ago with great success..the following couple of years there were virtually no potato beetles or larvae around at all. I think it has something to do with viruses or enzymes that are generated to dispose of the little carcases--and perhaps attack the live ones too!

      How are your Superior and Russet-Burbank potatoes growing compared to the Pimpernel? I think our Pimpernels are outperforming the Gold Rush, Yukon Gold and Kennebec in growth. I guess only time will tell with the harvest.
      Interesting idea re. using those insects for dye ! Has she tried the petal parts of Day Lilies yet? Onions? Tag Alder bark?
      Thanks for visiting, Wendy, and do come again! Feel free to contact me for more information at rkmywest@gmail.com ~R

  11. I have deer that eat off my porch and I live on a sand dune. If I cannot grow it inside, it has no shot here. My daughter is really proud of her ONE carrot she has managed to keep away from the gophers and deer :) Great garden, Ray. I am so ready to move to the part of the earth meant for growing things.

    1. hi Red--deer ARE a problem in some places, even around here. Living on a sand dune shouldn't be much of a problem if you have access to organic matter to build up soil. What you need is a lot of hay/grass clippings/sawdust/straw/composted manure/peat moss, all or any, which will give your garden sand some tilth and ability to hold moisture for growing.
      Then build a deer fence....-and you'll get two or three carrots --and maybe some other stuff too! Try the "heap process", it works well! Good luck with that, I'm not sure moving anywhere is the solution, our climate isn't exactly perfect either. It always looks greener on the other side of the country. ":) Thanks, Red, it really does look inviting, doesn't it...":).......~R

  12. Great incoming Raymond! I like the garlic scapes - my, they are large. Do you ever have rabbits around there? I know my parents in their garden do get them eating their flowers... Neat to see what you are growing, and the sweet corn will taste wonderful I'm sure!

    1. Hi, Christyb, yes, they ARE huge scapes, they are from a larger variety of garlic. There are rabbits around here--lots of them too. They don't seem to bother our garden at all for some reason. The sweet corn is coming along fine! "Christyb smiles thinking about sweet corn" ":) Thank you for commenting! ~R

  13. WOW! Raymond, what can I say... Great garden with lots and lots of goodies.. all coming along nicely... Yes and despite the weather Mother nature seems to throw her Magic into the Mix and always brings us a surprise or two along the way.. Ive never really been disapointed yet.. because if one thing fails something else thrives.. all adding to the balance which is Natures way..
    Thank you for sharing, and Im on catch up sorry Ive not been around for a while.

    1. Hi Sue, no apologizing required...have no fear about catching up, all paths lead to Incoming Bytes...sooner or later, that is....":)
      ...yes, the garden is doing well...and if something isn't doing very well, something else invariably IS. This year our peas are doing nothing--but the beans and potatoes are better than ever! Nice to see you back, wherever your path took you! Thanks for commenting! ~R

  14. I have been doing my own gardening Gree Updates Raymond,and getting to grips in the allotment lately while its been dry enough to venture out! ;-) and my Peas are doing nicely this year.. .. All swings and round-a-bouts with Mother Nature's guiding hands..

    1. Hi Sue, I apparently missed this comment~ I'm glad to hear your gardening is going along just fine! OUR peas did not do well at all this year, it was FAR too hot. Mother Nature seems to give us a few great veggies one year, and different ones the following year. See my latest post for spaghetti squash and pumpkins--unbelievable! Have a wonderful day! ~R

  15. Looks like I missed a great post and heaps of fun replies too. Love it. ***** There's 5 stars for this post, Raymond. Love the Asian lilies. They are very pretty, aren't they? and the Calla lilies too.

    1. Hi Mandy, we've missed YOU too, being off in Australia! Thank you for your kind comments! The Asian lilies are so beautiful aren't they? I really like the Calla lilies too-this pink one is unusual for us! I'm glad you enjoyed this! Thanks for commenting! ":) ~R


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