Monday, August 10, 2009

Back Yard Garden

I wrote about the garden in the front yard. This is currently the most productive part of our garden, the more attractive part and the most chicken proof part. It is also the one people see when they walk by. The one in back, our "secret garden" is growing into its own.

This picture shows Lina digging out the grass and weeds several months ago.
In between the strips of cardboard behind her is where we planted two rows of asparagus. Since then, the chickens have dug through there several times before we had our fencing in order, so we may have to put in some more crowns next year. the cactus in the background is a nopal cactus that was already here. Since it produces edible pads and fruit, we are leaving it where it is.

The biggest chunk of this garden is corn. I am still learning how to tell when it is ready. I picked some that I thought would be ready but it was immature. It was still tasty.

To the left of the corn is a sad attempt at okra. I keep trying to grow okra year after year and I am determined to get it right. This year the ants are farming aphids on them and the chickens have already attacked them a couple of times. Behind the okra are spaghetti squash, kabocha (the third year I am growing it from seeds from a friend) and yellow crookneck squash. In front of the corn is a squash I got from Baker Creek Seed Company's new Petaluma store called Long Island Cheese. It is named after its cheese-wheel appearance, not the flavor, though that would be neat.

Behind the corn is a giant Persian walnut tree (aka English walnut). This whole neighborhood used to be a walnut orchard, so every lot has a walnut tree on it. Some of the trees have been taken over by the black walnut root stock but ours has the common larger walnut on it.

If we had picked some back in June we could have made nocino, which we did a couple of years ago after our friends Carleen and Joel brought by some walnuts they picked. We made a few different recipes and it was delicious. Anyhow, the reason I am writing about the walnut tree is that having it right next to a garden plot limits the types of crops you can grow. Walnut roots and leaves are toxic to all nightshade family crops, but I read that corn, squash and beans were OK and they seem to be. Also, black walnut is more toxic than Persian walnuts.

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