Last fall I decided to take the plunge and start a major vegetable garden. A few years back, I planted 1,000 sunflowers, one by each, and the deer ate them to the ground before they reached 6 inches. So I learned my lesson that a deer fence is not a nicety but a necessity. A huge fan of recycling, I was delighted to find old pipe that could be re-purposed into fence posts in a farm dump along with a massive welded-pipe gate.
A landscaper drilled 2 1/2 foot deep holes and set the pipes, putting cement into the two posts for the gate to give it added stability. Sadly, the pipes are so fat, no hardware was available to make the gate usable. That project is still carried on my TO DO list.
I’m also an experimenter and always eager to try the latest techniques and so, rather than plow, I thought to biodrill with daikon radishes, a ‘no-till’ method developed by our own University of Maryland which I learned about in Master Gardener class. The seeds went in late, probably did not have a good supply of nitrogen and other nutrients either, and did not accomplish their job. Where the soil had not been scratched up to break the sod, it seems there was no way for them to even take hold. Did I mention that my garden is on a farm field that has not been touched except for mowing for at least 50 years.
This spring I faced the reality of a garden that needed drastic measures so I convinced a reluctant farmer to plow for me. His only comment was that ‘it should have been plowed in the fall’. Here’s a picture of Mr. H. disciplining my sod which was 6″ thick. He later came back and ran a tractor mounted tiller over it and while there are still clumps of field grass in there, it is workable and starting to look like a real garden.
Ignoring the advice embedded in the Grow It Eat It classes that I taught for beginning vegetable gardeners to START SMALL, I made this garden 50′ x 50′. In for a penny, in for a pound.
I’m currently hanging the deer fencing, have one row of peas planted, the corn plot is marked out and one 17′ x 17′ section is planted with, yes, daikon radishes. I am determined to make these things grow. It’s also doubtful that I will be able to plant the entire garden this year so the daikon will hopefully keep the weeds at bay and enrich the soil for next year.