Vegetable Garden 2015: Landscaping, sowing, planting

2015.01.04: It’s just for your information that I’m sharing this picture, these are cucumbers that sprouted in december! In a heap of grass cuttings from this summer on which I added RCW made from branches I cut a couple of weeks earlier, the mix nitrogen/carbon elevated the temperature quite quickly around 40-60°C for more than a week. It’s very useful to know, the seedlings held on fine udner snow and durign many days below 0°C. It’s good to know, all that’s needed for cucumbers to germinate is the soil temperature, they didn’t grow more, but they held on fine as seedlings under snow and in cold weather, it’s surprising, they are robust plants it seems. I’ll try to sow them around april this year instead of waiting for june/july like most people do. They might not be big grown so early, I’ll still be happy to have early tiny cucumbers!

2015.01.05-06: A vegetable garden as I like it, well covered during all winter! I’ll remove weeds and plants only when I’ll sow, so that I leave the cover as long as possible to let insects do their decomposing work as much as they can until I’ll be forced to put them on a compost pile, because it’s obvious I’ll have to remove them, they won’t be fully decomposed by march/april..

I prepared a new mound, with wood underneath; as Claude Bourgignon often says, this method seems strange to him and I agree. But in this case it seems important, I plan on sowing corn, squash and beans in that spot, water tends to quickly leave, toward the field below/behind and also all the nearby trees sucking the water out of the soil. The wood logs seem useful to keep more moisture in the soil and I didn’t bury them too deep, seen from the back, the logs are maximum 10cm from the surface, mushrooms will be able to grow (presence of oxygen/aerobiosis) to decompose them. And as usual, never let the soil naked, hence since I did that during winter and no grass will grow to protect it, I added RCW to keep the soil protected!

2015.01.13: One comfrey B14 that was well in place in the vegetable garden since last year, I unearthed it to take the roots and replicate them in other places, around the greenhouse and in the garden with raised mounds.

2015.01.22: I finished the planning of the vegetable garden, the bins B and C are placed, the straw is covering an artichoke, I hope it will resist the winter. That’s also why I removed the comfrey, it was in the way of the bins!

Birds sow wild garlic everywhere (here next to the gooseberries), I love it :) Nature helps us with so many synchronicities when we want to do something and commit 100% to it! I didn’t even mention the mushrooms that implanted themselves in the whole garden these last 3 years, 2 types of boletus and puffballs which I love! It’s quite crazy to have 3 different varieties of mushrooms in your own backyard, and quite tasty ones…

A Rosemary plant that is holding on since 2 years already, it’s hard for him/her?, but I’m hopeful it will become robust enough to take a firm ground in there, usually rosemary is not supposed to handle freezing temperatures…

2015.02.03: a bit of snow covered the garden for about one week.

2015.02.15: Over 3 years I trimmed the trunks of this chestnut tree I had burned by mistake when I was young and it grew back in a bush shape for about 15 years… Now it’s back to one trunk, it was necessary to have enough light on the vegetable garden. The tree agreed to be cut that way, I admit, if it’s brutal, it had more than 15 trunks…

The black radishes I had left so that they make seeds to have early radishes instead of SFP/MFP (Surface fertilizing plants/medium fertilizing plants… my terms for differentiating plants that most people call weeds) early in the season.. But I’m not sure yet if the black radishes will grow early, it’s a test, I hope they bred with other varieties I had sown as well that can germinate around 6-8°C, black radishes usually need higher soil temperatures to germinate.

2015.02.17: Start of the setup of the pyramid greenhouse, obviously made to sacred geometry proportions :)

2015.02.21-03.01: On the 21st I sowed red early radishes, onions and parsnips in the bin 7 (on the right), for parsnips I know from previous years it works fine. For onions and radishes, since they re-sow themselves alone when I let them go to seed, I think that if they are too early in the soil, they’ll also just wait to germinate at the right time! I still covered this bin until the 27th.
Then on the first of march I sowed again red early radishes in teh bin 9 (on the left) and cress all over.

2015.03.05: I started my tomatoes, peppers (sweet and not) inside, I used seeds I bought (and that stayed under a pyramid for a year), but also seeds I harvested last year, the most robust and late ones.

I did without knowing is, as Pascal Poot recommends for the choice of seeds, it seemed logical to me! The tomato that is and looks the nicest and resists the longest :)
But as it is written here: Tomates sans eau ni pesticide : cette méthode fascine les biologistes I didn’t know that it had to be done as described below to harvest the seeds.. I just washed them and let them dry, I hope it will be fine, else, well I’ll restart this year, that’s why I still sowed a lot of seeds that I bought.. I’m more focused on small/medium tomatoes, because the big ones don’t usually have enough time to ripen outdoor here in the north of france!

  • « You must take the fruit as late as possible, if possible just before the first frosts, hence it will have lived through the drought of summer, but also the rains of autumn. »
  • « Tomatoes, are special. When you open a tomato, the seeds are in a sort of gelatin, like the egg yolk. This gelatin prevents the seeds from germinating inside the fruit, which is warm and humid. The seeds can’t germinate before this gelatin is rotten and fermented. »
  • « You must hence let the seed ferment. For that you must open the tomato, extract the seeds and let them many hours in their own juice, for example in a salad bowl. A lactic fermentation will occur. »
  • « You must watch this fermentation process as milk on the stove, it can last between 6 and 24 hours, but unlike as what is being said, you must not wait for a mold layer to form. We take a seed and put it on our hand, if we can move it with the index without the gelatin coming with it, it means it’s good. »
  • « The we put everything in a tea strainer, wash with water and let it dry. There we get to a germination rate of 98% to 100%. »
  • « For sweet pepper it’s different, you must just wash the seeds, let them dry on a very fine sieve and then store them. For chili peppers it’s the same, but it becomes dangerous because the seeds burn, it’s very strong, it even goes through gloves. Once I harvested the seeds from a crate of Espelette peppers withotu gloves, I had to leave my hands in cold water for the whole night! »

1-2 weeks earlier I had also planted 6 onions rocamboles in different places, in places where there are also mostly perennials.

2015.03.09: I planted asparagus crowns, that were bought, it’s hard to start from the seed! There are 7 crowns in bin 1, one Violette Burgundine, 2 Super d’Argenteuil, 1 Verte Voltaire, 1 Prima and 2 Grolim. This bin is now full of perennials, I don’t think I’ll add any more, the 2 Rhubarbs will make shadow for the asparagus, there’s also one lovage plant that should become quite big every year! And I won’t forget a Rocambole onion in the corner :)

2015.03.12: Bear’s garlic that I collected in a forest in Belgium last year around april/may accepted the invitation in the “woodlands” of our garden! It’s fabulous :)

I had a bit of troubles to differentiate at first from this Arum, I don’t know which variety for the moment…

2015.04.09: Not much happened during a month, the temperatures went up at the beginning of march, but then dropped again for the last 2-3 weeks of march, hence no opportunity to sow, the temperatures were between 0-10°C…

Global view, it’s quite at rest still! Notice the prunus trees, I’ve attached them together, I’ll let them fusion just out of curiosity :)

A good thing to remember, cress can germinate at such low temperatures, it germinates as quickly as SFP, MFP, DFP!

The radishes (commercial) that I sowed on the 21st of february are only starting to germinate a bit now. I had transplanted turnips from the greenhouse on the 13th of march in the bin 8, they are all almost dead, the cold was too cold and birds finished the job :)

I left these onions overwinter to start doing like with the radishes, I want my own rustic varieties re-sowing themselves on their own year by year! Onions are a good choice because they don’t take up much space. And look behind, the rustic radish much more advanced in its growth than the commercial ones!

And again other radishes.. It’s a good concept to have them as “weeds” in early spring! ANd it’s now been 3 years, they’re starting to be very robust, I leave all varieties mix up from year to year randomly.

The wild strawberries as usual flowering very early, the cold didn’t seem to bother them :)

I leave the strawberries alone, I don’t cut/trim etc. Because everyone does that, no one can tell me what happens if I let them be, I want to understand the natural cycle, here on the right, where it’s more developed, these are mostly the runners from last year that took root. On the left the strawberries were well implanted last year, I wan to see how it goes if I leave them on their own.

Sage is a great plant I recommend, not only can it withstand mild colds, it grows until January and doesn’t even lose its leaves, it’s somewhat like coniferous trees! Now it’s already budding..

2015.04.12: I planted potatoes I had kept from last year harvest. I learned from my mistakes (I hope :) ), last year I had planted 50-70 plants per bin, it was way too much, this year I planted 30, 3 lines of 10. In the bins A, B and C, as shown on the schematic I re-used and completed from last year page.

You can see the bin with the holes.

Then I added peas rows in between the potatoes, the association seems great, the peas help fix nitrogen from the air, which helps the potatoes grow. I wanted to try that, because climbing peas are good, but if I can do without having to install the grids etc. for them to climb, it’s even better! I keep the seeds from the climbing ones for new experiments this year. :)

Here I did the same, but in bin 5, which is a bit shorter (3m instead of 3.5m for A, B and C bins) hence I made 3 lines of 9 holes. And on top of the peas I also added black corn from seeds I kept from 2 years ago, I hope to be able to use them as support later in the year for climbing beans, but I don’t know if the corn will grow §being slower than potatoes) in between the shadow of the potatoes, I want to see if with the nitrogen fixed by the peas, even with the lack of sun if the corn can grow..

The varieties of potatoes I sowed are: “Salad blue” in bin A, “Kestrel 2nd early” in bin B, “Home guard 1st early” in bin C (I think, I’m not even sure…), and “Chéries” in bin 5.

An artichoke from last year that withstood the winter!

A violet broccoli re-birthing from it’s own root that died during the winter

I’ll try to get and keep seeds from these plants, if they adapt to resist a bit more to the cold that’s a great thing!

2015.04.15: I planted potatoes, 3rd year in the same spot, I decided in the end (I didn’t have the same opinion last year) to see if the soil can still be good even without rotations… I did that in a very simple fashion, I just removed 2-3cm of soil to place the potatoes and also added 2-3cm of RCW. As we mow the lawn once in a while I’ll add the grass to ‘earth up’ the potatoes.

Celeriacs from the greenhouse I pricked out, but they ended up being eaten. By slugs, birds? I don’t know, but I learned that I have to prick them out twice, once in a larger pot to let them harden and grow to resist the outside transplantation. I’ll need to equip myself with more adapted pots etc. next year! And small tunnels, of 3x1m to cover the bins individually when needed, but that was already in the plans. :)

Wild radishes…

In the mound at the back, that I won’t use to plant anymore (too much shadow), a parsnip still grew again, even with all the compost I added, the soil I disrupted a lot etc. Hence I’ll let that robust one grow to get the seeds!

And just next to there, where parsnips grew in the previous years, they are growing back, so I’m leaving it to see what happens…
Et à côté, là ou des panais poussaient l’année dernière, ils repoussent, donc je laisse faire pour voir..

I pricked out squashed (blue queen and turkish gourds), to see if they can resist, if it works I’ll have seeds from very robust plants, else…

2015.04.20: The violet broccoli is growing a tiny flower…

2015.05.08 :
I made a video, but it’s my first try and I’m not yet great at it, hence this time I added photos as support, because sometimes I don’t film very well, it’s not stable… :)

Thanks to a friend, I got many cuttings of blueberries and currants (old ones, very robust), he also showed me a place where to harvest wild asparagus, bear leek colse to where I live. :) And cuttings of rosemary and thyme that can withstand the cold of the region!

Wild asparagus and bear leek to eat, we might as well. :)

Here’s the mix I used to water the plants, around 40 ml of colloidal silver (30ppm), 15g of manganese sulfate and 10ml of ormus. The sulfate to boost the growth, the silver for their health and ormus for a little bit of both.
Re-diluted in about 50L, in watering cans.

The sage is getting quite big, the currants as well, making a good protection against the wind from north-west, to protect the rosemary and thyme I just planted behind.

New currants/blueberry hedge with strawberries behind.

Global view.

Complement for the video:
Bin A:

Bin B:

Bin C:

Comfrey well setup!

Commercial radishes, sowed the 21st of February.. They grew slowly compared to many wild ones!

The potatoes of bin 5 that have a virus and got sun burnt.

I placed the tomatoes today, 3 are from seeds from last year, they grew with mildew, like with the potatoes the carried it with next generation! I already watered with colloidal silver before, today I watered with my mixture as well. That being said they’re robust, my seeds are the ones that grew the fastest!

The strawberries, to continue watching a natural cycle, I do nothing except remove some herbs once in a while when they take too much space.

Lovage is a good food for slugs, good to know. :)

And the Rhubarbs are well attacked! But as I said last year, I planted them in full sun knowing it’s not ideal… I count of them to make shadow for asparagus, which is not the normal logic… Usually rhubarbs are placed in shadowy zones!

The violet broccoli still resisting quite well!

I didn’t explain in the video, in bin 5, there’s also black corn with the peas and potatoes. The corn is in the rows with the peas. I want to test if it will grow fast enough to not be overgrown by the potatoes (and they die because it will be in their shadow), thanks to the nitrogen fixed by the peas… So as to be able to make the 3 sisters methods (planting the squash and climbing beans afterwards) once I’ve harvested the potatoes.

This sorrel is still quite helpful to feed some herbivores insects. :)

The artichoke that resisted the winter, I keep an eye on this one!

Another comfrey very well set up. :)

2015.06.03 :
Here’s the link to the video:
I won’t add every video as an integrated video, because it will probably slow down the page too much!

This last month not much has changed, the potatoes look very healthy, no more signs of any disease. I focused more on the planing around, the new currants/blueberries hedge, I added mint, I covered the soil etc. But nothing special in the vegetable garden. I let everything grow freely, because it’s very hot and dry so it’s best for the soil to stay well covered by plants. To this day I don’t really know what I’ll do next, 3 bins are completely free to be used. I’m waiting for inspiration! Squashes for the season (not forced), climbing peas and beans. And other things to come, it’s still quite early in the season, in the end a lot of things are planted in the garden with mounds, so I don’t know what to do at home, I thinking about other lazy methods. :)

2015.06.21 :
Here’s the link to the video:

Since last time, I’ve been inspired thanks to mother nature who decided to bring a little rain, which seems perfect to sow carrots, even if it’s a bit late compared to the norm, I noticed that each time i tried to sow carrots directly at the beginning of spring, it’s no good at all because slugs are really hungry and are looking for anything to eat. Since there aren’t many other plants at the beginning of spring, the sprouts of carrots are quite a treat for them! Now, the mole in my garden already ate a lot of slugs and some toads in the surroundings as well. It has been quite dry, slugs could not feed themselves much, hence not reproduce while these 2 predators ate them, hence there must not be a lot left, which seems perfect to sow carrots.
Apart from that, as explained in the video description, cress is a fantastic plant to cover the soil while it isn’t being used for something else, it has very shallow roots which can be weeded out easily. And it grows as quickly as other wild plants, hence it can easily prevent them from growing if sowed on a naked soil right at the onset of spring.

2015.07.01 :
Here’s the link to the video:

As explained in the video, the mix peas/potatoes brought me a great little surprise, more pollination for the potato flowers. The addition of melliferous plants around the garden helps too, sages that are well set now and comfrey have flowers that attract a lot of insects (not just bees), I also let some wild herbs growing for their presence and their flowers that attract insects as well.
The aphids (managed by ants) that were colonizing some of my plants greatly dimished, as i expected it and observed in the previous years, this colonization usually starts in spring and ends at the beginning of the summer.
Btw. having ants herding too many aphids everywhere is a sign that the ecosystem is not yet well balanced, which I know is still the case. Thank you mother nature for the little reminder :)
Apart from that, 2 seeds of the same tomato variety, losetto (which were hybrids F1 when I bought them), cherry tomatoes, are growing very differently, one that was forcibly slowed down by slugs, is now growing in height, whereas the other one which wasn’t hindered still remains quite flat and rampant like it was last year.
This year, on top of wild radishes, I’m letting onions become wild as well by resowing themselves on their own.
I also explain a useful method to sow carrots, you have to cover them entirely, since they take 2-3 weeks to germinate, to prevent any other plants from growing.
I’ll let you watch the video for the rest. :)

And some more photos, because things are missing in the video!

In the aromatic plants corner. The commercial thyme and oregano are weak and can’t stand the actual climate. Where as the rustic thyme that I got from a friend, is thriving! In the middle there’s just rosemary that doesn’t seem to have survived the plantation, I put the branch as is in the soil… I’ll replant another stem later this year when it will be cooler, it’s also a rustic variety.

The rocambole onion has its own little ecosystem, this plant developed around it on its own, it’s great, it protects the soil around the onion. If that plant doesn’t climb too much, I might let it cover the entire bin?

I wasn’t yet good at recognizing them, these are asparagus sprouts, I had forgotten that I had put two claws in there, since there’s space… Another one in under the sage and also making a sprout.

Cross-breeding of leguminous plants, this Lucerne grew there on its own and as you can see there are black pods (normal) and green ones, in the green ones there are mini peas! I’ll keep these as seeds to resow next year to see what grows!

A closer view of the very big ‘radishes’ seeds, that don’t seem to be radishes! To follow!

I didn’t show it in the video, inside the unfinished greenhouse, there are plants, that I have to water.. Because the automatic irrigation but rainwater collection on the sides of the greenhouse is not yet in place. These are squashes and cucumbers mostly, they are there in preparation to put them where the potatoes are growing now, straight after the harvest I’ll put them there to use the space of the garden as well as possible. They’ll be a bit delayed compared to the norm, but it’s fine for me.

A parsnip going to seed in the compost heap, I hope it will be pollinated (auto pollination..), because it resisted to a lot of things, it must be quite rustic!
Un panais dans le tas de compost qui part en fleur, vu qu’il n’y en a qu’un j’espère qu’il se fera polliniser, car il a resisté à tellement de choses, il doit avoir une bonne rusticité!

A squash that grew in the compost, it happens often, but this one is quite special, in this spot there is not sun, ever! Under the tree, on the north face of the compost mound! I’ll keep a close eye on it, I don’t even know what kind of squash it is…

This is another part of the garden, where corn is starting to be big enough, I sowed climbing beans recently so that they’ll help the corn to grow better by fixing nitrogen, while using the corn to climb. And later I’ll add squashes at the foot of all those, when they’re all tall enough. The three sisters method… But I learned it over two years, you should not sow everything at the same time, first corn (here in april), then beans (mid-june), then squashes (mi-july). In our climate it’s not the same as in tropical or equatorial climates…

This year I sowed the climbing beans at the front of the house, to rotate the crops a bit and simply because it’s a good place. :)
I couldn’t do it earlier, because there is a huge tree above, and I had sown non climbing peas and potatoes there behind already, if I had sown the climbing beans early as well, they would have made too much shadow for the plants behind..

2015.07.17 :
Here’s the link to the video:

Last year I planted the potatoes on the 2nd of May, this year on the 12th of April. Spring started earlier this year, but it was spread out longer, for example the cherry and currants in the garden were ripe approx. 2 weeks later than last year.
Anyhow, this year, the potatoes were planted on the 12th of April, first harvests on the 17th of July (3 months and 5 days), last year they were planted on the 2nd of may and all harvested together on the 16th of august (3 months and 14 days). Depending on the variety, the next harvests this year should be in 1 to 3 weeks. Hence it’s approximately equal.
However, there’s no comparison as far as the quality is concerned! I kept the small potatoes from last year for this year. Last year I planted them 20-30cm deep, it was way too deep, they lost time to come out and it wasn’t good for the potatoes, the soil at that depth bathed in water and non-decomposed compost, many were rotten at the harvest, as I said in the video. I had also planted 60 to 70 plants per bin, it’s way too much, many vegetated too much, I had many stems longer than 2m, because they were looking for some light!
This year, it was great, the plants were robust and healthy, not too long, I could just have put a bit more per bin, I was scared of doing the same mistake as last year, hence I planted only 30 per bin, each bin is 3m² in size. I think that the ideal quantity is around 15 plants per m², hence 45 in a bin.
This year I had peas on top of it!
I harvest in total 2,5kg of shelled peas and around 2-3kg with shells. I planted them as support for the potatoes, as nitrogen fixers, I didn’t look forward to much in terms of harvest, hence these couple of additional kilos of peas is just fantastic! And even pea seeds! Next year I will do exactly the same, but with 45 potatoes per bin instead of 30.
I had 12,5kg of potatoes for these first 3m², it’s within the standards, that being said, it almost never rained during two months! Taking into account that I never water, this harvest is great.
On top of that, my most important goal, their genetic heritage improved again this year! I started with potatoes that rotted last year because they were too deep, the survivors of this ‘massacre’ were replanted this year and withstood peacefully a drought. With optimal conditions, I’m faithful that with this improved genetic it will be even better. Moreover, the soil is becoming better year after year, I think that it will take around 5 years in total to get to the top of the top, soil and genetics. It’s just a matter of patience and letting nature adapt on its own terms. :)
I started with commercial potatoes, I know very well that they are not used to support any and all climate conditions without human support, it takes a couple of generations for their genetic to re-become more rustic!
Also, I never saw any disease or potato beetles, that’s also an important aspect, very healthy plants that can repel their predators on their own! When I see go every week on their potatoes to remove the beetles, or put some (even organic) treatments, I wonder why they can’t figure out that it’s because the soil is bad and/or that their plants have a bad genetic profile. Generally a plant with an average genetic will grow very well in a good soil, but in a bad soil, the good genetics will be required, or help as I do, a bit of colloidal silver, ormus, something to help the plant to have what it needs to defend itself on its own while mutating, the harvest might not be great, but what survived will have mutated to become more resistant!

2015.08.07 :
Here’s the link to the video:

As I said above, the harvests might not be that great and on the following two bins it was confirmed.
2-3kg of blue/violet potatoes (1kg per m²), and 4-5kg of yellow potatoes (1.5kg par m²). That’s really small, but these varieties were not only commercial, but also ancient. The commercial varieties are trained to have good yields, the ancient varieties surely not, they must just be reproduced to have them available without much ‘training’.
But, the potatoes look nice and I’m sure their genetics are getting better!
These ones were also planted in a backfilled soil made this year, among other things with clay that looked somewhat blueish taken from a place in the garden where it hadn’t seen the sun for 15-20 years, it was not oxygenated (blueish clay is a sign of lack of oxygen).
Work to continue in the following years! :)

2015.08.29 :
Here’s the link to the video:

Combined video for all gardens. I’m mostly still trying to figure out the rodents life cycle!

2015.09.17 :
Here’s the link to the video:

There isn’t much more to say than what’s already in the video description. :)

Small update to keep you updated. Not much has happened since last month, the rodent activity is under control and the delayed squashes are now growing well, let’s hope the season will allow them to finish ripening :)
One obvious observation is that plants allowed to grow on their own terms produce more flowers and hence seeds! As should be the case in a natural environment where plants want to give the best chances to carry on to their offspring :)

2015.10.11 :
Here’s the link to the video:

2015.10.31 :
Here’s the link to the video:

I’m very happy with the way things are going. :)
One thing I didn’t mention in the video, I had cross-breeds between wild alfalfa plants and green peas earlier this year (I noticed it because the pea pods were opening in a spirally kind of way). That’s really great because at this time of the year the alfalfa plants are still totally green and growing, that’s a good thing if I can get peas (the cross between peas and alfalfa) that can grow well that late in the season! I love peas ;)
And as I finished the video on it, slow growing corn left standing in the winter seems to be a great treat for small birds!

2015.11.24 :
Here’s the link to the video:

The end of autumn is nearing, with the first frosts. The names I was looking for in the video, was shallots and also lilies of the valley and hyacinths. These are flowers that have a toxic bulb or completely toxic. When I said I planted shallots and garlic, I meant fully grown ones. Always with the aim that rodents that end up biting such things get disgusted and that most of them find the safe spot I’ve made for them.
I forgot in the video, the onions I let go to seed this year are also starting to grow randomly all over the place, great :-)