I've been pretty busy with school and the kids so I haven't been posting her much for for anybody who's following or stumbles by, here's an update of the garden for this year.
To begin with there were some problems with starting my seeds in pop bottle. On the one hand they were cheap and seemed to work well, but on the other hand, the ridges were I cut the plastic were sharp and damaged/killed quite a few of my plants. I also didn't harden them off by leaving them outside much so as a result only about a third of the plants that I started survived and the ones that did aren't very productive so far (though that may be due to the lack of rain). If I go this route again, I would recommend putting tape around the edges of the plastic
As mentioned the lack of rain has made for an interesting year. This year I used two different planting techniques to see how they would work out. On the sides of the house I did traditional planting with proper spacing etc. and in the front of the house I went whole out polyculture. In the front I kind of invented a hybrid between Sepp Holzer style "throw all the seeds everywhere and let God sort them out" and Fukuoka's seed ball technique. I put all the vegetable seeds, including some wild flowers, into a bucket, mixed them with compost and just threw them around.
Above is a picture of the garden along the eastern side of the house which was the most productive area last year. As mentioned I planted (somewhat) traditionally here and you can notice that some plants are turning brown or have died.
Next is a picture of my front garden where I just threw everything around. As you can see this area is much more productive and even seems to be "going wild" (which is fine by me but some don't like that ha ha).
Originally I was only watering about once a week but for the last couple of weeks I've been watering every second or third day, while some people I know are watering everyday, sometimes more than once. In my opinion, the rasdish seeds I included in the mix, which sprout fast and are ready for harvest in under a month acted as a living mulch. The leaves of the radishes prevented evaporation and by the time the other plants had started the radishes were ready to harvest. Interestingly the sunflowers I planted in the side haven't grown at all while the ones in the front are really taking off.
I think I'll continue this radish thing from now on. The only problem is that I'm the only one who eats them in my house and I can only eat a few each day. As a result were were sending dozens of radishes to the compost so I tried pickling the radishes and they turned out great! My youngest daughter loved them and even my wife thought they weren't bad. All I did was mix vinegar, water, salt and a little bit of sugar and added a chopped up clove of garlic. The brine seems to remove the red colour from the radishes so the pickled radishes come out a mild pink. To be honest I didn't measure anything and just went by taste. Below is a picture of the radishes and some yellow beans and peas that we harvested tonight for supper.
The apple tree we planted is doing very well. I estimate we have about 2 dozen apples which is pretty good for the second season! Unfortunately I wanted to try wrapping the apples in old nylon stockings to prevent bugs from getting in but I never got around it and most of the apples seem to have bugs. Oh well, cut around the worms and try again next year I guess.