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page 8

Vegan Garden

by soilman Theodore Zuckerman

I think this is 2001 although it may be anywhere between 1999 and 2002. In the foreground, and at the left end of a 20-foot by about 4-foot wide raised bed (it is hard to see that it is a raised bed, but it is) are turnips, juicy, sweet, salad turnips that are delicious raw; to the right of them are some leafy greens, to the right of that is something under a hot cap, surrounded by winter rye (a cover crop and green manure).

In the next bed, all the way to the left you can see part of a compost pile. Then there is a trellis with snap peas growing on it. It is an 7 or 8-foot long section of trellis with peas growing on it. There are three such 7 foot long trellis sections in this bed. You can see the whole width of the first trellis, and about 2 feet of the second trellis. They are 6 feet high. Eventually the peas reached all the way to the top — and wanted to keep going.

In the next bed, which is only 20 feet long, you can see a sprinkler tripod at the very left, than a bed that looks empty. I don't know if anything is seeded there yet or not.

In the next bed behind that, there is compost pile on the bed. The pile is divided, a small part on the left, and a larger part on the right. This is immature compost. The fact that it is divided suggests that I am in the process of turning it — moving the top of pile A to the bottom of a adjacent pile B, moving the middle of pile A onto the middle of pile B, and moving the bottom of pile A onto the top of pile B. It may take 2 or 3 days to complete this task, depending upon the size of the pile and what else I have to do.

Loose leaves that had little or no time to decompose were picked up and moved with a pitch fork. Pitched with a pitch fork, or garden fork. More decomposed matter, was moved with a garden shovel, or if necessary, a forged pointed shovel.

Several beds behind that, you can see a compost pile that looks like it is finished compost. Note that this much finished compost required about 20 times its volume in raw materials, to make it.

The peas, only a foot high (they reach over 6 feet when fully grown) show that this scene is near the beginning of the season. Peas and leafies and turnips are the earliest things I plant. The time of year also explains why I have a large pile of finished compost — it is was started during the previous season.

There may well be another compost pile, behind the camera, that you don't see. Typically I have at least three 20-foot beds devoted to compost, with one of the beds filled from end to end and filled completely across its 4-foot width; another pile will be partially mature and cover about 1/2 the length of a bed; and a third pile will be finished, and about 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet, or larger.

Let's take a longer longer view of the snap peas growing up the trellis, see some more of the salad turnips, and get a better look at the extent of the compost piles. There is an almost finished pile in the rear, that is dark, and about 5 feet long, a 20-foot long unfinished pile closer to the viewer, and part of a smaller pile, just behind the turnips. Also note the (bush style) pea plants in the foreground.

Let's take a close look at that compost pile in the rear, that is, at the west end of the rear garden. It is almost finished. Look how dark it is. It needs to be screened. I use a 1-inch mesh welded-wire screen. Gets out the rocks, large twigs that haven't decomposed yet, etcetera. I wish I had a photo of the beautiful black flufy stuff that results. It is just a beautiful substance, which smells like soil. This pile is now about 4 feet wide by 5 feet long by 2 or 3 feet high. It started out as 2 piles of fall leaves, cut green manures and cover crops, cut lawn grass, and a bit of seaweed, that were each 5 feet wide by 3 feet high by 20 feet long. A 40-foot long pile of raw material eventually becomes 5 foot pile of compost.

Here's a closeup of the snap pea plants growing up the trellis." Their little tendrils hold on to the twine, like a baby holds on to an adults finger. Try to detach it, and it immediately endeavors to grab on again. This aspect of pea plants makes them seem "cute" to me. They are "huggy" too, the way they cling to the trellis.