Harvesting has begun

The Demo garden at Sam's restaurant is thriving. Tomatoes have set fruit already, cucumbers are climbing to the skies and lettuce is picked daily. While this is a small demo plot, it isn't hard to imagine how increasing the size would supply all the fresh pest free herbs and leafy vegetables he requires. 

Papa Sam with first lettuce crop from his Seed Haven garden

Papa Sam with first lettuce crop from his Seed Haven garden

Tomatoes and cucumbers in Papa Sams Seed Haven garden

Tomatoes and cucumbers in Papa Sams Seed Haven garden

While I am on the subject of the Demo Garden size, a couple of things come to mind relative to sizing of gardens. It is common amongst first time gardeners to over-plant their site. This is because imagining the space a full grown tomato plant or sprawling cucumber or zucchini vine will occupy without experience is difficult. Overcrowding creates an environment wherein disease and pests can thrive. Moulds and mildews are encouraged when there is little air flow around and through plants - not unlike a damp corner in the basement. We don't see what happens in the garden 24/7. But lots of friendly insects, birds, frogs, toads, snakes etc. roam about doing good things. If these friendlies cannot move freely about the garden, they become nervous about their own safety and, the pests they would otherwise enjoy, have at your veggies and herbs uninterrupted. Using Seed Haven greatly reduces the risk of crowding but at the same time, produces maximum return for any size of garden. And, the spaces between Seed Havens are ideal hiding places for many of the predators we wish to encourage.

A word about composts - and I went here before but it is well worth repeating. Compost is good. Of that, there is no doubt. However, composting occurs over long periods and until complete, is a breeding ground for the very pests we are trying to keep at bay. These pests along with a host of bacteria and moulds have a purpose - to turn waste material into soil. Until they finish the job, we don't want the pests in the veggie or herb garden. This being the case, please avoid putting fresh compost in and around your Seed Havens. And, your compost area should be well away from your garden. A good strategy is to use very well composted material and work it into the soil at the end of the previous gardening season. It will then have some months to become fully incorporated without an abundance of pests.

When I last wrote about the HQ gardens, I indicated that the cold winter and dry Spring had suppressed the pest population. Well, it is a different story now. The pests have been appearing in numbers. It is customary to plant beans and other vegetables periodically throughout the summer until mid-August in our location. I did a second bean planting on June 11. Two rows of nine seeds were set out in both Seed Haven and the control garden. Seven days later, the beans began to sprout. All 18 sprouted in Seed Haven and 15 made an appearance in the control garden. It is now June 21, and here is the appearance of the beans in both locations.

Second bean planting in Seed Haven after 10 days

Second bean planting in Seed Haven after 10 days

Second bean planting in control garden after 10 days

Second bean planting in control garden after 10 days


Closeup of bean damage in control garden after 10 days

Closeup of bean damage in control garden after 10 days

The beans in the control garden are seriously damaged and most will not likely recover. All but one bean plant in Seed Haven are pristine and growing on. The one plant appears to be a defective seed as sometimes happens when the cotyledons do not promote the first true leaves.

Weather during the 42 day growing period has consisted of: 141 mm of rain, 227 growing degree days (10C base) and average temperature of 16.4 C. Here are pictures of the gardens as of June 21. 

Seed Haven garden 42 days on

Seed Haven garden 42 days on

Control garden 42 days on

Control garden 42 days on

Things the pictures don't show. The veggies and herbs in Seed Haven are not covered in soil splashed up from the ground during downpours; don't have slug slime and pest droppings all over them; and,  don't look like Swiss cheese. Here's a side-by-side close-up example.

Mesclun showing damage outside Seed Haven

Mesclun showing damage outside Seed Haven