A is for Asparagus
A quick look won’t be much of an impact, I thought – maybe there is something interesting going on. “Of course, dear!” as I put the drill and screws down. I get into the vegetable patch, and there madamme asks: “Can you remove these two rows of trellises?” (Planted firmly in the ground with those steel fence posts that you get from the green shed.) Now if she asked in the first instance: “Can you come and remove some trellises?” I would have known to bring the pliers, the heavy duty hammer and the gloves. In dry season, the big wrench too. So off I trundle back to the shed to get said tools first and drag them back to vegetable garden. Meanwhile the deadline is steadily ticking closer… Have you ever tried wrenching those stakes out of the ground when you’re still a bit weak from the flu?
But of course, it is all for a good cause. With our new thoroughly planned rotational crop planting, intermixed with the chickens that will one day be working the beds, permanent trellises won’t work anymore. It is exactly because of the fixed trellises that up to now we have had minimal crop rotation in some beds – we kept planting the climbers in those same beds. And tomatoes, for one, need good crop rotation going on. The fixed trellises also resulted in insufficient clearing and preparation happening in those beds, as the trellises were difficult to work amongst, especially in some beds where there were two rows of trellises in parallel. Even going full no-dig, you still need to get in there to cut the previous plants to the ground and sometimes blast the early surfacing weeds with the gas torch. Ever tried blasting those plastic coated trellis wires with a gas torch? Not a pretty sight, smell or impact on the soil!
Anyway, in the end, the mobile chicken working holiday home was completed weeks before being anywhere near needed, all the trellises got removed from the four beds, and the asparagus and rhubarb beds got prepared – using our own home-bred compost. Hopefully my record-keeping was accurate and I took the compost off the pile that got hot enough for long enough to kill off all the weed seeds. Otherwise the poor holiday workers are going to have even more work to do when their turn comes on the asparagus beds.
As part of this initiative I also made all the irrigation pipes more flexible – so that you can easily loosen a single soft wire (more of that plastic coated wire… grrrr) and twist the pipes out of the way. With this done, you can for example rake or burn the whole bed without having to work around the pipes. Productivity!
Initially the fixed trellises may have seemed a good idea – like irrigation, you fit them once and for all, right? Well, if you want flexibility to implement proper crop rotation, using temporary movable and removable trellises and temporarily movable irrigation pipes form part of a much more useful and productive approach. In the long run it actually saves labour not installing the trellises or pipes permanently.
Permanent trellises are nice for permanent and substantial vines, such as bougainvilleas and wisterias. However, even these vines need a lot of work (not that permanent trellises interfere with that). I also like to grow grapes on permanent trellises. Grapevines do not need to be moved. The portable trellises are used for vegetable plants, or sweet peas if we were to to grow them again. For some, we just weave redwood branches together temporarily. That is a bit too temporary for some.
Hi Tony, I agree – permanent trellises for permanent plants. Yeah, we only use the portables for annual vegetables. Ah, that’s a great idea – the redwood branches can look very natural in a forest garden. If we have excess tomato seedlings I may just steal your idea and weave some gum, cyprus or olive branches (that’s what I’ve got lying around) together and make a foresty type of frame in the forest garden. Thanks 🙂
Oh, it is not my idea. People have been doing it for a long time. Redwood happens to work well because it is easy to find a whole bunch that are about the same length, and although they curve, they often have the ‘same’ curve. They are very resistant to decay, so can be used for a few years.
Keep up the good work Martin…