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2016 – October Update – Mulberry Comparison

By W. Leon Smith

ocra“Where were the August and September monthly updates?” you might wonder. To supply a short answer, I simply did not have time to do it. My days have been spent working on an important deadline-based book project, filling keyhole garden kit orders, and trying to keep up with picking the veggies growing in my keyhole gardens.

Every day I run the traps to harvest the okra before it grows too large. It is hit and miss. Sometimes I just don’t see a few and the next day they are way too big to be tender enough to eat, but I try.

tomatoesWe have had a good harvest of black-eyed peas this year and after the hot, hot summer put a halt to my tomatoes, they are making a splendid comeback. I have been picking the fox cherry variety daily, one size larger about every other day, and the big ones are about to start turning red. I have not spent as much effort tending my gardens as usual, largely because of the book project, which deals with history and agriculture. I am hoping for a November publication date, but we’ll see.

On this page are a few photos related to what I have thus-far discussed garden-wise, but I thought I would venture a step further.

blackeyesAbout a year-and-a-half ago I came into a couple of flats of dwarf mulberry starter-plants, each about an inch tall planted in tiny pots. I gave most of them away and planted a few in the yard, but they didn’t do too well. A few I transplanted into larger containers and kept them watered well. They grew to about five inches in height.

I ended up with two that were about the same size that I wanted to use as experiment subjects. So, I planted one near the back porch of the house and another in a keyhole garden nearby, so that there would not be a big variation in sunlight or rain. The planting occurred this past spring.

mulberrySo far, the results are astounding. The mulberry tree planted in the ground is now about five feet tall and has a few small branches, whereby the one planted inside the keyhole tops 15 feet tall (taking into consideration that it was planted “higher” than ground level). It is filled with lush branches. I did not do an exact measurement of the trunks of the trees, but stuck my index finger beside both (see photo), and the one in the keyhole is about five index fingers in size, while the one planted in the ground is just slightly over one index finger in width. Just click on the photos to enlarge them.

I realize that to get a proper comparison, additional experiments might be needed and variables would need to considered; however, I am convinced that the nourishment received via the internal basket where nutrients are constantly flowing through the soil has made a huge difference. The two trees are miles apart in development and overall health, at least at this stage.

Now, I have not inspected the root system of the tree planted in the keyhole. I have no idea whether it is now ground-based or is floating around inside the keyhole. I did not want to disturb my other plants to find out. Yet I find the tree’s exorbitant growth interesting.

FYI, I probably will not have an update in November due to the book project. It depends upon how much time I am afforded away from the keyboard, if that makes any sense (since I use the computer keyboard to do updates).

Kat Rose from San Juan Island recently installed some keyhole garden kits and offers this link to her site which shows the progression of the gardens. Very interesting. http://www.flamingchalice.com/curiositykat/.