Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gnarly Squash Patch or Sophisticated Eco-Garden, Time Will Tell

By Steve:

When we installed our vegetable garden, we did it in a hurry and converted it from an existing lawn area. Had we had time to observe the surface flow of rainwater after significant precipitation events we would have excluded some of that area because it turned out to collect too much water. So now we are letting the lowest part of our vegetable garden recover to native vegetation. That leaves a couple of areas that we want to retain for growing vegetables in the middle of the wet-dry spectrum - a bit wetter than we'd like. We've struggled with trying to control the main "weed" (yellow nut sedge) and failed no matter what. Rather than be defeated we decided to work with nature and simply plant INTO the mix of native perennials, some non-native but beneficial perennials and some annuals. Our first experiment with this technique is for our winter squash beds because we plant those in mounds and this would be more compatible with a matrix of other plants than rows. 

Here you can see the squash mounds amidst the "weeds" that we are attempting to actually benefit from (blooms for pollinators, habitat for predators to perhaps help with squash bugs and borers, initial shade for squash seedlings, mulch from clippings).

On July 1 this is what it looks like and it's actually quite pleasant with at least a dozen species of non-vegetable plants that are, seemingly, benefitting the vegetable crops and providing the gardeners with beauty and wonder.

Close-up to show the squash plants thriving as much or more than they have in the past, when we spent way too much time pulling "weeds." 

We will provide an update later in the growing season and, we hope, have a photo of a large pile of winter squash harvested and ready for the root cellar! 

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