...compared to the perennials garden
In the previous post I went on about how great the perennial flower gardens have done over the years. This is not bragging, its just something I happened to observe. I noted how the plants are thriving in spite of the fact that they were originally installed on top of fill (soil-less sand and stones) with bucketfuls of composted wood to cover the roots. Nothing fancy; plants have thrived and the gardens require very little upkeep.
The vegetable garden, on the other hand was an entirely different matter. Nothing easy about it. It's been ten long years getting this garden going with the earliest years almost a total washout. We are now getting a decent harvest from most things, but it's hard to forget the struggle. What seems clear is that this type of garden requires deep, rich, composted and manured soil. The plants are fussy about ph and specific nutrients that are not apparent without sending out your little brown carton of dirt for testing.
This has led me to think about how the two types of garden compare. One grows handsomely in builder's fill, and with little fuss. The other must have ongoing pampering to get it started and keep it going.
What are the differences?
Perennial garden: mostly perennials with a few reseeding annuals. Plants stay in place year 'round. Mulching and composting take place by virtue of natural leaf-fall in autumn. Almost no work to maintain except for some pruning. There are no major pests or problems except for Japanese beetles which do not kill the plants.
Veggie garden: mostly non-hardy annuals (some of which are actually perennials in tropical climates) with some hardy reseeders and a few hardy perennials. Plants are in neat rows with (usually) one type of pant per row. The rows are cleared of the annuals in late fall, and reseeded in spring. The unused parts of plants and weeds go into the compost pile. Compost is shoveled onto the rows throughout the growing season, with manure added in fall. Work involves planting, composting, mulching, some weeding (weeds are not horrendous), manuring, some watering (mostly only to get transplants going, and in droughts), and harvesting. Some plants are susceptible to air borne funguses which can be deadly. This requires fungicides approved for organic gardens that do not always work. Young plants are a food fest for slugs, requiring ongoing slug control measures until the plants grow large enough.
As you can see there are enormous differences between the two types of garden. One is entirely undemanding. The other sees a flurry of activity in spring, another flurry in fall, and some routine maintenance in between. "Perennial" means never-having-to-replant (unless of course you WANT to fiddle with the plants), and "non-hardy annual" seems to translate into a pile of W-O-R-K. No serious pest problems with the perennials, but the foody annuals sure do keep us hopping.
In the next post I'll relate my observations about yet a third type of "garden". Stay tuned! -jmm