Friday, January 7, 2011

Gardening the same patch the second year

This season has already exceeded last season in terms of success in the backyard. With three chickens laying and multiple crops harvested, I am left to reflect on what has made this year so much more bountiful. I have come up with three keys to this success!

A glasshouse. This year I had the glasshouse all through Spring which gave me the chance to get a superb head start with my seedlings. The glasshouse is such an advantage because it eliminates the early frost damage that I'd otherwise have to risk or protect against if I were an early planter. Having a glasshouse almost feels like cheating! I started my season earlier, had an ever ready supply of new seedlings to take the place of harvested crops and also managed to grow some more exotic varieties like eggplant. Delightful.

A warm Summer. Christchurch has had a considerably better Summer so far than last year. It wasn't until quite late last year that I was able to harvest tomatoes, strawberries and others. My corn wasn't quite ready by the time the cold of March started to hit. This year it's been hot ever since mid-Spring, and the Summer has been superb. I harvested strawberries in November, the corn is almost ready and I've cycled through many harvests of radish, carrots, beetroot and lettuce. Perfect.

The benefits of knowing my backyard. This is the contributor that has surprised me the most. In terms of the types of vegetables I've grown, the locations I've put them and the condition of the soil, simply knowing my backyard has increased my productivity hugely. Last year I struggled with my courgettes and a couple of sick looking tomato plants. This year I have lavenders growing happily in those locations, and where the courgettes are they have flourished. I've also managed to produce a lot of my own compost, as well as bringing in a load of mushroom compost as mulch and generally add to the condition of the soil.

So in my opinion, there's a lot to be said for gardening the same patch the second year. Give me a third year and I'll be ready to look into companion planting, crop rotation and more soil-y goodness! Unfortunately it's not to be though, as we're moving to Wellington shortly and the backyard will become the front porch. My next post might be about gardening in pots in severe winds.

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