Monday, October 12, 2015

Veg patch

The season is definitely changing - the spiders and field mice are heading indoors.  But I´ve been outside working on something resembling a veg patch.  It´s still very much in the development stage, but practical before pretty.

Raised beds.  The one on the left is planted with garlic, the one on the right is waiting for something else, perhaps onions.  My MIL told me to plant onions.  Another, smaller hugel will go behind the second retaining wall.

These are transplanted starts of lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage.  I killed the brussels sprouts before I got them in the ground.  The woman at the farmer´s market assured me these would grow without plastic or row covers.  I have my doubts, but this is all an experiment anyway.

Spinach sprouting

Garlic up!  It may be too early here.  October is the target month in the Pacific northwest, which I´m using as my guide.  I may plant out some more in November to compare.

Hugelbed in front (could it have something to do with the mice?).  The next section is lasagna-style with cardboard over the grass.  Now, I´ve realized more than pasture grass, it´s really mostly weeds like nettle, mint, blackberry, and rushes.  Probably going to have to redo later. And it needs more soil.

In next section, I took off the weedy ground cover.  There is a thick layer of thatch with most of the weed runners that can be rolled back on itself like a carpet with a lot of work and leverage.  Then lasagna layers.  I suspect I´ll have to redo this one as well because of what I discovered digging the following section.

The last 2 raised beds had the weedy layer removed and then I dug down 18 inches.  About 10 inches down there is a layer of stone ranging from the size of my head to gravel.  It´s like there´s a Roman road under there.  Underneath that it turns to heavy clay.  So even if the lasagna works as advertised on the other sections, I´m not sure roots will ever penetrate that stony layer.  Anyway, it got the remains of the stinky anaerobic compost I had left in a plastic bin, and a bunch of dry grass the neighbors let me have, then cardboard and dirt.  It will be interesting to see how each section performs.

And V took pity on the poor, struggling Mencia grape vine that looked so, so pitiful in its container and built this fab planter for it.  Eventually we´ll put up supports and drape it along the house for shade in the traditional Galician fashion.

So for now I´ll be doing battle with weeds and the invading arachnid and rodent hordes.


  1. That looks impressive. I am sure your mix of organic matter will work albeit at different rates. We can never produce enough compost for our beds. Do you have a local source of manure you can lay on the beds over winter?

  2. Hi Coco, I happened upon your blog a while back and have enjoyed checking in on your Galician garden progress. If you have access to straw bales, you might want to consider straw bale gardening as an alternative to lasagna gardening. I got to see the method at a friend's this year and was quite impressed with the technique: Virtually no weeding or digging, resulting in healthy, productive plants. The basic method is explained here: and if you search youtube, you can get more insight.

  3. Hi Coco,

    It's looking good - love those rock walls! Your soil is remarkably similar to the soil here in both colour and texture and if I dare make a suggestion, I'd get a little bit more manure into those vegetable beds as it will give the vegetable seedlings a bit of a feed - plus next summer it will hold a lot more moisture which means the vegies will be much less water stressed. Brussel sprouts have been problematic here too, so I don't bother with them anymore.

    The old timers down here used to say plant your garlic on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day. I would be planting garlic now if the seasons were reversed certainly later planting doesn't seem to make much difference - but I'm unsure how cold your winters are?

    Cheers. Chris

  4. It´s frustrating. No manure, no straw, no hay, no black dirt, and very, very little homemade compost is currently available, except in small bags at 8-10€ a bag and a long drive. We are truckless, which means finding someone who delivers and that doubles or triples the cost of material. The local straw bales are giant and weigh a ton. There´s a mínimum number for delivery and we have no storage. We know no one in agriculture and friend´s contacts aren´t agricultural either, despite being in a farming area. Dairy farmers here now only have slurry, not manure as such, and they pump it from tankers over their fields. So, I need to find someone with horses, who will deliver, or wait until we have chickens. The coop is on the list for this winter. And forget organic anything. Gah!

  5. There is a mushroom farm on the right just before you reach Lugo maybe they could let you have spent compost, have you tried some of the smaller agricultural stores they would normally sell small bales of straw. There are a lot of large pig and poultry units in your area, maybe contact them and see if they will let you have some of their manure, they might even deliver a load as it's always a problem to get rid of. You could also try your local fruit and veg store to see if they would give you any waste produce that you could compost.

  6. I should also have mention peat, this was available in our local agricultural store in Baralla, I can remember what it was called but it had a picture of reed mace on the plastic sack. Also sea weed, would Vigo or Coruna be your nearest beach, you can't cut it but you can collect what has been washed up. Great for all plants and has 58 trace elements in it.

  7. No small bales in Melide. Do you mean the Baralla side of Lugo or our side for the mushroom place? I have to go there to look at Besteiro lumber anyway next week.

    I thought using peat was being discouraged from over harvesting? I would LOVE to get seaweed. There are spots on the coast that traditionally use it, but someone told me it couldn´t be removed from beaches in Coruña. I´ll enquire further.

  8. In the middle of Baralla on the opposite side of the road to the adjuntement there is a shop that sells hardware and at the back of the shop they sell agricultural supplies, that is where we used to buy a small bales of straw and also the bags of peat, they also sell polythene to cover tunnels, and black plastic by the m that you can use as ground cover to get rid of weeds. I just cant recall what the peat was called though. Peat is still being sold but it has to come from sustainable resources, whatever that might mean. It is a great soil improver.
    Your side of Lugo for the mushroom farm, it's on the right hand side.