Monday, January 19, 2015

Planting Peas in a Bed

Today I managed a bit of time to get one things planted in the garden -- taro, cowpeas, beans, and peas. With the gigantic windstorm clean-up project, I haven't had much time to get to much else. But if I wanted to keep a food supply flowing, I needed to start getting caught up on the garden schedule. I'm not really all that good yet at keeping to a planting schedule, and now I'm way behind. 

I had harvested two taro plants last week and still hadn't replanted the ohas and huli. So that got done.  With the job completed, I asked myself why I had put it off. It only took 15 minutes. Sigh. That's what happened when I get overwhelmed. Even small jobs get put off. Sigh again. 

The beans, peas, and cowpeas were more involved. These three went into the garden beds, so I had a bit of prep to do. 

1- Chop or pull out the major weeds. 

2- Test the soil pH. I knew from past testing that the soil was in pretty good shape, but with the volcano spewing out tons of SO2, the pH has been bouncing all over the place. I've been adding calcium carbonate between each crop, which slowly helps control pH. But sometimes I need wood ashes to align the pH quicker. So today's tests showed the soil too acidic, thus a dressing of wood ash was called for. I have no special formula for how much ash to use. I just dust it on like adding powdered sugar over a cake. Since I test the soil between each crop, I don't worry about it. Plus the amount of vog I get is unpredictable, making pH control far from being a precise science project. I also added a light dusting of coral sand (calcium carbonate source), some crushed heat treated bone, and a bit of biochar though I didn't have very much today.

3- Top dress with a light layer of manure and/compost. Which do I pick? Easy -- whichever I happen to have. Today's choice was horse manure. I seldom have an excess of either manures or compost, so it's whatever I'm lucky to have that's ready. Maybe some day I'll be fortunate enough to put more science behind this step. 

4- Flip the soil. If the soil is rather firm, I'll use the rototiller, the beds I planted today were all in good shape so it was faster just to use a garden fork and flip the soil. This step not only mixes the amendments in a bit, but also assures that the soil is light and airy, thus ready for young seedlings to grow. 

5- sow the seeds. 
No, I'm not being paid by Stokes to advertise their seeds. I just happened to use a bag of Stokes seeds and forgot to move the packet for the photo shoot. 

With the beans, cowpeas, and peas I lay out the seeds on top of the soil. Peas are spaced about every 2-3 inches, beans about every 3-4 inches, and cowpeas about every 6 inches. Today's varieties were all bush types, so no trellising had to be taken into account. Once the seed is spaced, then I go back and push each one I to the soil, about an inch down. 

Now it's time to set the seed. By this I mean that I pat the soil down, making sure the seed is firmly surrounded by soil. Soil contact with the seed is important. Next I water the seed in. Any seed that floats to the surface by the watering process just gets poked back down.

With my night time temperatures being below 60 degrees, I'm using a plastic cover to increase soil temperature. This results in far better and faster germination. Plus it keeps the soil moist. The wind here dries out the soil surface every day. 

I use whatever I happen to have to hold the plastic sheeting down. Today was some pieces from a wood pallet and some rocks. Since the plastic is only going to be in place for a few days, I don't get too fancy or complicated with it. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your posts. I really enjoy them!
    We are dreaming of moving there (still). We can go at anytime but we are worried about VOG.
    How are you dealing with it? Is it a big issue? Worth staying away?
    My email is
    if you don't mind writing me and letting me know.