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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Cucumber Tipi - Part 1





The center bed in my garden was taken over by orchard grass. I pulled the grass out a couple of years ago and fed it to the underground vertical spruce hugelkultur pit, but it all came back. This year I decided to layer the orchard grass bed heavily with alpaca manure and cover it with cardboard for weed suppression.

The manure from Mowry Mountain Alpacas is fabulous stuff. 
Aged, it looks like rich soil and has a somewhat sandy texture.

You could not imagine a better soil amendment!

Here is the center bed with a ring of alpaca manure where I planned to plant Armenian cucumbers.

Side-by-side comparison of alpaca manure and native soil. Need I say more?

This is the bed covered with overlapping cardboard and a layer of larch needles and leaves (pulled off my asparagus beds from last fall).


Time to put the tipi up! These are larch poles from Wauconda, thanks to a fun work day with Lee Johnson, clearing leaners from his road. First the tripod, then the clove hitch knot (first an X and then an H)...


...then the remainder of the poles plus a few wraps with the rope.

The brown tubing is a 1/4" line with drip emitters built into it.

To plant through the cardboard, my left-handed weeding tool works great for creating a hole.

Since the cardboard hadn't settled onto the ground surface yet, there was some airspace below the cardboard. I punched a bottomless jug through the hole, and poured soil and water into it like a funnel. This may seem a little tedious, but picture not having to do any weeding throughout the whole growing season! It's worth the effort up-front.

Here is a hole after soil was added and tamped down, strategically placed just below the emitter.


And a cucumber seed placed in a hole, before being covered up 
-- we can't wait for these to grow!

My next task is to wrap wire around the tipi poles to create the trellis surface, and then staple clear plastic around the outside to turn it into a greenhouse. I'll leave the plastic up until the weather warms more and the plants are large and prickly enough to be unappealing to marmots. This tipi should provide a helpful combination of vertical growing space, greenhouse conditions, and protection from wildlife. It will also provide a shady place for Fawn and I to seek shelter from the blazing sun later this summer. Stacking functions!


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