Bird houses and permaculture research

What a week! The weather was very off and on this week which made gardening a little bit difficult.  On the rainy days we retreated to the library and used this time to do some extra research on permaculture gardening techniques as well as the pests which we may encounter this season.
Jess and Jack brush up on some awesome permaculture techniques with the film  The Permaculture Orchard

While it's nice to have your go-to reference books, we've found it very useful to look at a variety of sources to answer our questions and get new ideas. There are lots of reference pages online from seed and gardening companies or from university extension offices. It's a good idea to look at multiple sources to get the most information you can. Some sources are incomplete, out of date, or don't deal specifically with the region and gardening techniques that apply to you.

Most things in the garden are planted and we're just waiting for them to start producing, but that doesn't mean that there's nothing to do! Some of our seeds didn't germinate as well as we would have liked so we went through and replanted where there were gaps. This will ensure that we're making the most of our space and will have plenty of produce. It's important to be flexible in your garden plan and be willing to add or rearrange as necessary for these same reasons. Mother Nature sometimes has different things in mind or you get an unexpected gift of seeds as we did this week. For example, we came across a package of turnip seeds and even though we didn't have a spot planned for them, we tried to find a bed that wasn't being used to it's fullest.

As we walked around checking on our seedlings, we noticed that some of our soil had developed a thick, hard crust as a result of repeatedly getting wet and then cooked in the sun. We went through and broke up the soil with our hands, being very careful not to disrupt the seedlings too much. Breaking up this crust will not only make it easier for the plant roots to spread out but it will also increase water absorption into the beds. The thick crust causes water to run off faster than it can soak in which doesn't do the seedlings much good.

Another task between planting and harvesting time is fertilizing. Some plants like to have an extra little boost once they've gotten started like our brussel sprouts and beets. The kind of fertilizers that you can use vary as well as how far apart you should time reapplication. The Veggie Gardener's Bible has a concise reference for these sort of things.

We also built some new bird houses! During our rainy day research, we learned that bird houses are often only occupied at 50% capacity because a nesting pair will defend two nests in case they need to move. We have a pair of house wrens living in out two previous houses so we felt it was time to encourage more nesting pairs by giving them more places to live. We're hoping that a group of elementary school kids coming to visit will help us decorate the houses using bark and other materials found around the garden.

One of our new bird houses-entrances to be added. They're made from recycled pallet wood and a lot of sweat.
An update on the leek moth situation: We found a strain of Bt that seems to be working very well at limiting the life cycle of these pesky moths. It's an organic fungus that gets into their digestive systems and causes them to stop feeding on our beloved garlic. We're still covering the garlic at night and hand-picking the larvae every morning but their numbers seem to be diminishing. With an luck, we still may get a handful of garlic scapes this season.

There are always new things to do and see in the garden. We welcome your questions, comments, suggestions, and even your visit at the site! Until next week, happy gardening!

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