Friday, March 4, 2016

What I planted today (4 March 2016)

My other garden row, which I share with one of our other gardeners, is in a completely different microclimate in the garden.  Very near the top of the slope that runs from west (high point) to east, this row is in shade much of the day - from evergreens to the north, deciduous trees (that get taller every year) to the south, and the fruit trees of the garden orchard to the west.

With this much shade, this part of the garden stays cooler and therefore has the possibility of retaining more moisture.  Of course, mulch anywhere helps with moisture retention, but limited direct sun also helps!  So, this row is perfect for cool season crops that often bolt before they finish growing in our generally short spring.

What's a cool season crop?  If you're planting from a seed packet, anything that says before last frost and/or soil temperatures over 40F.  Although the official last average frost for Albuquerque is mid-April, the garden is relatively protected by houses on two sides and a high fence on one side.  Soil temperature checks throughout the winter suggested our soils never really went below about 40 although neighbors a block away report the heaving that goes with freezing and thawing.  Never underestimate the power of a microclimate!  We're considered to be in hardiness zone 7 but that really is a general guideline.

So.  Today. we put out potatoes and onions.  As an experiment, we put the potatoes in a cage and we're going to add alfalfa as the season progresses.  The idea is that as the plants grow up, up gets further away.  So, rather than dig roots ever deeper into the soil, they should be making potatoes along the way as they reach for the sun.  I've read mixed reviews about the success of this method, so we'll see.

We were also able to get some seed starts for broccoli, brussels sprouts, and lettuce.  They'll spend a few days hardening off and then, out they go.  Both broccoli and brussels sprouts tend to have a hard time in our garden but I'm hopeful that with as much shade as I anticipate they'll have, they'll stay cool enough to develop properly.

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