Polyculture garden in late summer

On this last day of August the days are still hot and I find myself longing for fall. The garden is producing beautifully, and everything seems as if it will keep on going this way forever. But I try to remember not to take things for granted – the last warm days, the bounty of food, this gentle life – knowing that winter will cover everything over in an icy layer soon enough.

A while back I posted a plan for our summer garden. Then summer and all its joys swept me outside away from the computer. On this rainy afternoon I thought I’d sit down to share some photos of how that garden plan turned out.

This is our upper garden. Our lower garden closer to the house got decimated by grasshoppers, but more on that later. Probably about half of what we planted in the upper garden also became part of the buffet, but luckily we planted things in polyculture fashion, interplanting different types of crops and planting many different crops and different varieties, so that some of our crops were able to survive. Looking at the lush green garden, you would hardly know that anything was missing – the surviving plants spread out and took the place of the ones that got eaten.

We are taking notes on what seemed to thrive, resisting both the grasshopper plague and our harsh high desert conditions. We’ve also been weighing all the food we harvest and can’t wait to see what our total is going to be. I’m guessing around 300 lbs of food!

 

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Polyculture garden planted in deep trenches to reduce evaporation. Each trench is well mulched for the same reason.

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Tatume squash, a great producer.

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Potimarron – a favorite French winter squash I’m thrilled to finally grow at home. “Potimarron” is a combination of “potiron” (pumpkin) and “marron” (chestnut), which gives you a clue to its taste.

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Atlantic Giant Pumpkin and Maddy. These can grow up to 200 lbs. (The pumpkin, not the cat!) Maddy is our vole hunter, helping out in the garden as much as she can.

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Lakota squash, another beautiful winter variety.

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Lumina pumpkin, a favorite of the squash bugs.

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Wild sunflower volunteer. Sunflowers can be allelopathic, but this one just popped up, so we let it stay.

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One of many beautiful little watermelons we have growing.

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One of the melon patches. Melons grow well in our sandy desert soil.

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Sorghum and scarecrow. Somehow the suit of armor doesn’t seem to be deterring the deer, skunks or ground squirrels!

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Snake gourd buds.

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Blauhilde pole beans, one of the few beans that resisted the greedy grasshoppers.

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This purple cauliflower is so pretty that we’ve been putting off eating it.

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Amaranth, a volunteer, adds some nice color and height to the garden. Yummy leaves, too!

This is just a smattering of what’s growing well in our polyculture garden. The tomatoes and peppers are just starting to come into their full glory and I’ll be back soon with a recipe for fresh fermented salsa, a great way to deal with having too many tomatoes at once.

This is the time of year when many of us gardening fanatics start to feel a little burned out. But before we know it, from the middle of winter, we will be aching to plunge our fingers into some rich soil once again. With that in mind I will try to fully enjoy the last days of summer and hope you will too!

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