The Wright St. Experimental Agriculture Station

By next year i plan to have raised beds in production, but this year sees all my vegetable work on Wright St. It’s the original home of the greenhouse business, on the third lot, down the gully and across Badger Creek. It used to be home to vegetable gardens, but that was years ago. This is year two of working the plot, and it has been much easier this year.

I call it the experimental ag station because i have a pretty well guaranteed supply of fresh produce from the CSA. I’ll use whatever i produce, but i’m not counting on it for my fresh tomatoes. To be fair, my winter plan had been to sink a good deal of sweat equity – and even cash money – into the area this season. Then we bought a house with a 50 x 150 lot that’s been terribly neglected for at least two decades. (That’s a different series of blog posts for different days.) So Wright St. went in on a shoestring with what time i could find.

Pictures and stuff below…

Last year’s working it with a gas tiller was unsatisfying and a pain in the ass. So this year i went a different direction, blocking out rectangles within the plot, i double dug. I didn’t add any new organic matter, just turned and loosened. And then i planted stuff really close together, but without following any rules or doing any research beyond understanding that with room vertically, rootzones need less horizontal space.

I seeded some things like corn, beans, onions, potatoes, lettuce (the only failure), carrots (spotty) and one hill of cukes. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, more cukes, yellow zucchini and acorn squash were all starts. Some from the Farmer and some from work. Since i don’t really pay for that stuff from the Farmer and starters from work are discounted, i spent no more than $30 for all the plant material. Fencing was all “found object”. I never completed the plan to edge the plot in landscape fabric. What i used was leftover from another project…though i bought the paper stuff as an experiment.

Most of it went in Memorial Day weekend, with a few later additions.

The east half.

The broccoli, cauliflower and why not parsley, a few onions, a hill of cukes and some leeks (which i’ve sorely neglected to hill properly). Told you i spaced everything tight. It has kept weed growth down and so far everything seems to be ok with the situation. This plot has seen some worms and slugs. They’ve been dealt with: the slugs chemically and the worms organically…or as organically as you can get in a spray bottle.

They’re heading, if i get lucky the spacing will lessen the burden of tying up the cauliflower.

This bed, well this bed is out of hand. It’s like three by maybe sevenish. It contains five tomato plants, one hill of cucumbers (all three stems), two hills of bush beans, two broccoli plants and a semi-successful ring of carrots around each tomato.

I don’t even remember the varieties. The one that’s more than 5.5 feet tall is a Juliet (we love Romas around here for their versatility). There’s something called Oregon Spring, and a Heinz that was mostly lost to slugs early on but has bounced back.

In case you’re wondering, i’ve spread a very small amount of 10-10-10 that was left over from another project around and that’s been it. Yes, i know that the fence is kind of jankily, but temporary fence improvements haven’t percolated to the top of the to-do list yet.

I rowed some thing for lack of imagination. The tomato on the right is a volunteer from last year’s bug gotten. I left a few that were particularly vigorous…it’s an experimental ag station after all, why not some open pollination?

Two out of three sisters. There was supposed to be a succession row of baby romaine along the back but the first planting failed and then i failed.

One day i made another little plot and planted four eggplants and three more tomatoes because…well just because.

This here was my biggest failure. In an effort to maximize space, i ran the trench for potatoes (trench because i counted on my own laziness and failing to bring soil in to hill them) north-south. The land slopes that way a little, and towards the creek. The creek is awesome because A. i scoop a 5-gallon bucket with holes drilled in the bottom and water free and pretty easily and B. once the plants are established they rarely need water anyway. Unfortunately, we got some monsoon like days and my brilliant idea flooded out nearly 3/4 of the row of potatoes. You win some, you lose some and sometimes you’re just an idiot.

Yellow squash in the back and a hill of Diva cukes in the front. I tried that “green”, recycled paper mulch. Don’t be suckered in. It’s almost impossible to work with…even the first section of the roll wouldn’t lay flat, i can’t imagine what the center will be like. It rips if you try to stake it. It rips if you try to cut it. It rips if you look at funny. Also, it doesn’t appear to let water through very well. The stuff pictured is only about a month old and it’s pretty much gone. I’d hoped for it to last until the zucchini covered some ground. Worst however many dollars i ever spent.

That’s the acorn squash and the end of the tour.

Hard to say what i’ll get out of the plot, but as things look now it’ll be a pretty good haul for doing it half-assed. Why my fiddling should soon include bringing home food, and that’s what it’s all about…aside from playing in the dirt and making things grow. And i swear that if i have access to this spot next year, i really will do it right.


~ by Lex on July 13, 2010.

2 Responses to “The Wright St. Experimental Agriculture Station”

  1. You did it – wonderful documentation of the garden. How can you go wrong for $30! The dirt time is a reward in itself and any crops harvested are a magic bonus.

    I’ve seen that paper mulch – glad I didn’t bother now.

    I have crop envy. The favorite lament of gardeners – “Next Summer”…

  2. There’s always next summer!

    The paper mulch was a huge disappointment. I’m hoping to find a leaf mulcher this summer/fall. I’m sure that the neighbors won’t mind me taking their leaves, and a bale of straw is cheap if i don’t have enough in the spring. Mulch and soil building in one easy step.

    Free stuff from Bunce really changes the equation.

    And since i’ve been working on the homestead too, i might just get more of these posts out…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: