How to Grow It with Less Irrigation: A--Z
Abundant Life See Foundation: P.O. Box 772, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Wild cabbage is a weed and grows like one,
able to successfully compete for water against grasses and other herbs. Remove all
competition with a hoe, and allow this weed to totally control all the moisture and
nutrients in all the earth its roots can occupy, and it grows hugely and lushly.
Just for fun, I once G-R-E-W one, with tillage, hoeing, and spring fertilization
but no irrigation; it ended up 5 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter.
|Successfully Starting Cucurbits From Seed
With cucurbits, germination depends on high-enough soil temperature and not too much moisture. Squash are the most chill and moisture tolerant, melons the least. Here's a failure-proof and simple technique that ensures you'll plant at exactly the right time.
Cucumbers, squash, and melons are traditionally sown atop a deeply dug, fertilized spot that usually looks like a little mound after it is worked and is commonly called a hill. About two weeks before the last anticipated frost date in your area, plant five or six squash seeds about 2 inches deep in a clump in the very center of that hill. Then, a week later, plant another clump at 12 o'clock. In another week, plant another clump at 3 o'clock, and continue doing this until one of the sowings sprouts. Probably the first try won't come up, but the hill will certainly germinate several clumps of seedlings. If weather conditions turn poor, a later-to-sprout group may outgrow those that came up earlier. Thin gradually to the best single plant by the time the vines are running.
When the first squash seeds appear it is time to begin sowing cucumbers, starting a new batch each week until one emerges. When the cucumbers first germinate, it's time to try melons.
Approaching cucurbits this way ensures that you'll get the earliest possible germination while being protected against the probability that cold, damp weather will prevent germination or permanently spoil the growth prospects of the earlier seedlings.
The root systems of this family are far more extensive than most people realize. Usually a taproot goes down several feet and then, soil conditions permitting, thickly occupies a large area, ultimately reaching down 5 to 8 feet. Shallow feeder roots also extend laterally as far as or farther than the vines reach at their greatest extent.
Dry gardeners can do several things to
assist cucurbits. First, make sure there is absolutely no competition in their root
zone. This means[i]one plant per hill, with the hills separated in all directions
a little farther than the greatest possible extent of the variety's ultimate growth.[i]
Common garden lore states that squashes droop their leaves in midsummer heat and
that this trait cannot be avoided and does no harm. But if they've grown as described
above, on deep, open soil, capillarity and surface moisture reserves ensure there
usually will be no midday wilting, even if there is no watering. Two plants per hill
do compete and make each other wilt.