Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gardening 2011: May

For the first in this series click here.

The Second Zone is comprised of tomatoes, asparagus, bell peppers and chili peppers.
The Asparagus is a perrenial and these particular plants have been there for three years. We harvested off of them for the first time this spring and it was delicious.

The asparagus are behind the other plants, the tomatoes are bordered by chili peppers in the front and bell peppers in the back. Tomatoes keep the chili plants from getting burned by the sun. The peppers keep some pests away from the tomatoes. The asparagus have deep roots and get the water and nutrients that soak away from the shallower roots of the tomatoes and peppers.

This time I covered everything with cardboard and punched holes in it to plant in. because the area had been very grassy because of aspargus waterings. The cardboard has drastically reduced the weeding, although I was surprised to find a volunteer tomato in one of the pepper holes. I suppose the tomato seed must have survived composting and come in with the compost I spread before planting.

Most of the tomatoes and peppers are store bought because last years attempts to grow them from seed mostly failed. I tried again this year with some new techniques: First I made planters out of egg cartons. Punch out the bottom of the egg holes and nest it in the top of the egg carton. Place the whole thing in about a quarter inch of water. The paper of the egg carton sucks the water up via capillary action and keeps the dirt placed in the egg cups mosit but not too soggy,

Next I made drip jars by punch a small hole in the lid and turning the jar upside down. This quenched the transplanted plants thirst in our hot Las Cruces weather in the sandy soil without having to water them two times a day. This small jar keeps it moist for 2-3 days.

Here is a pepper plant of about five leaves partially shaded by a tomato.

And here is the progress of the first zone:

The corn is a little stunted, and I expect that the spacing was a bit tight. Next year I will spread the corn - green beans a little farther apart and make the furrow wider giving them a little space from the peas. The peas were tasty and abundant. Green beans are about ready to harvest, Corn and squash are in flower, watermelon and cucumbers are growing. I learned after we lost the first ones that the cucumber needs a drip jar. The peas are still producing sweet pods, although I expect the heat will kill them soon.

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