Two sisters, two urban gardens, and a question: How much of our families' food can we produce ourselves?
Moving toward sustainability on urban farms
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I was inspired by Dan's recent post about his move to compostable supports for his plants to get out and photograph my supports for this year's garden. As with most gardeners, everything is a work in progress, but I make refinements as I go along. For pole beans, the problem is getting them tall enough. This year, 8' long redwood 1x1s seemed to be the answer. They're tall, even after stuffing them in the garden bed, and a quick screw or two to the back fence helped make them even more sturdy. Quite possibly as sturdy as this fence! The corners might have a screw in place (thank goodness for an electric drill) but I think I also might have just tied some in place. This one has both. A few turns around and a square knot, and it's the horizontal upper piece in place.
Along the bottom, above the soil level, I tied a long piece of the compostable twine. At intervals, it's held down by pins made from wire hangers, so it's relatively stable, just at the beginning. Over the horizontal bar, I just tossed the ball of twine so there are V-shaped loops hanging down.
One of the Scarlet Runner beans is as tall as me if I'm on the ground, so it's got to be up about 4-5' from its start. Too bad I transplanted a whack of bush beans along one section of trellis!
The beans aren't the only plants with partially-compostable supports. Tomato cages give me fits. If they're the stacking round ones, they're generally not sturdy enough for big, indeterminate varieites, and the sturdy round cages I make myself are a storage nightmare. If I had a barn or something, I'd just do that but on a small, urban lot, storage is a key consideration.
This year, I tried an idea I've been percolating for some time. The 6" square concrete reinforcing wire that comes in big sheets makes a nice "alley" put up with sections of rebar.
The tomatoes go staggered in there, and as they start flopping around, sticks get inserted at strategic points to restrain them. Wayward branches moving out the sides get tucked back in or up, however they can be fit.
I figure, at the end of the season, I'll pull out the sticks, and hang the still-flat wire along a fence. Worth a try, at least.
The hot weather has had the bees out in force, drinking from the new "fountain," (really an old refrigerator drawer with water and bits of wood for landing platforms in it) a lot. It gets near constant traffic. Click for a closeup of her tongue.
Unfortunately, the friendly, useful bees aren't the only visitors to the garden. Does anyone know a good purpose for yellow jackets?