Saturday, January 2, 2016
2015 Experiments Recap and Thoughts on 2016
Last year's growing experiments were suppose to be two approximately half acre patches of Buckwheat, a Pumpkin patch of about a quarter acre and a line of grapes not only for production but to act as a barrier so the hives by the house couldn't see me when I was out in the garden.
Right off the bat the continual rains caused me to only get one of the Buckwheat fields tilled up. By the time the ground dried up enough to get the second Buckwheat field tilled I was so far behind on the fencing project I just let it go.
The first field and the Pumpkin patch were just totally drown down to nothing. At first both of them appeared to be growing like gangbusters but the constant rain and super saturated ground just stunted the Buckwheat and the Pumpkin plants and then allowed the weeds to grow like something out of a fairy tale with a giant involved and a guy named Jack.
I must say however that the bees did get some good forage from the Buckwheat plants despite them being rather stunted. Unfortunately the weeds pretty much killed the poor stunted plants off before they could produce any grains at all.
The Pumpkin patch was pretty much the same except no bees got any forage off the Pumpkin plants. They simply ceased to exist under the weeds. My theory is that the weeds ate em. The patch was so wet there was literally nothing I could do about the weeds unless I wore hip waders anyway.
The new Grape trellis/barrier however really took off. I had planted a few of the grape plants as little sticks back in 2014 but the rabbits had gnawed on them a bit so I didn't know if they survived the Winter. I had also put a raised bed type border around the Grape plants and filled it with barn mulch to keep the weeds down.
Well the plants survived and thrived. Because of the rabbit attack I did a small patrol against the VarmintCong forces about early February and there was no more damage. By July I just removed the raised bed border because the Johnsongrass was coming in too fast. Didn't matter much anyway by that time the main vines had gotten thick enough that protecting them was not an issue anymore and I could pretty safely mow right up to them and weed eat around them.
I ended up using the freed up wood for barn repairs too!!!
The grapes actually produced quite well. We didn't make anything out of them this year but I was constantly munching on grapes while working outside during the late Summer. About the time they started getting a bit too ripe I picked all that were left and fed em to the chickens.
The chickens loved em!!!
So for 2016 my plan is to give these experiments another try. I don't think it is fair to judge em by that one bad year. I may not have gotten the back Buckwheat field tilled but I did manage to keep it mowed and cleared so it is ready to be tilled this Spring when I get the chance. The Pumpkins are proving a harder problem to crack though. The Johnson Grass weeds can over come any suppression attempts by the anything and the way the Pumpkin vines spread makes any kind of mechanical weed control impossible. Still not sure how to attack that problem other than plain old fashioned hoe work and sweat.
As a continuation of the Grape Vine experiment I am now learnign how to prune the vines for increased production next year. More on that later though.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!