Friday, June 24, 2011

Tour of the Homestead

Come with Toby and me for a quick tour from the back field, across the barren plain where the geothermal loops were buried, over to the garden, and home for dinner.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tote that Barrow, Lift that Bale

The garden is growing, in more ways than one.  Monday afternoon I built two more beds, transferred some herbs and the tomato plants, planted some perennials along the northern border, started whacking in fence posts, and put up some poles for the pole beans.

I was very excited to see the beans doing so well (and I hope the peas soon catch up)!  I have to figure out a trellising strategy now.  In the past, I've made trellising out of baling twine, but I'm not sure that will be the best solution here, where the winds are quite strong.  I may have to look into fencing.  

Originally I had stuck these herbs (chives and oregano) in a planter by the house, but the hosta were just too robust and I don't think the herbs would've had a chance.  I think they will be much happier in the full sun and all the space of the garden.

I put the fence posts about three feet out from the outer path of the garden, and while trying to come up with something to do with the space in between, it occurred to me that this would be a great location for perennials - plants that would bring in pollinators, maybe some herbs, etc.  I still had some plants in pots from the plant sale at work, so I placed them along this edge and mulched them with the straw I bought a couple weeks ago.  What went in?  Artemesia, apple mint, valerian, anise hyssop, and  black-eyed Susans.

Like all good overseers, Toby supervised from the shade of the maple tree.

When I joined him on a break, I was bummed to see my old nemesis flying around:  rose chafers.

What else was planted on Monday?  Fava beans (good for building soil), corn, dill, buttercup squash.  Yesterday my sweet potato slips arrived, looking rather the worse for wear, so I built another bed last night after work and got them into the ground.  Used up the last of the marsh hay, so I am now out of mulch.  Will have to make another trip to the garden shop.

Meanwhile, I'm not too sure about this "topsoil" I purchased.  When it dries, it has quite a crust on it.  Looking closely at its make up, it seems to be primarily sand, and I suspect clay.  Where is the humus?  I think I will definitely have to order some compost, and then make the rounds to my neighbors to see if anyone would like to bring me a load of manure.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

After leaving work Saturday, I stopped by the Community Gardens to check out my plot.  We've had no rain for over a week, and several very hot days - I needed to water my seeds and see if anything had sprouted.  

Sure enough, peas and beans were up, as were some of the greens, but the beans were not looking good - they were riddled with holes!  The ground was hard as a rock, too.  Still, I grabbed the hose and dragged it as close to the plot as it would reach, and gave everything a good drink.

The rest of the plot, I think, is going to be chalked up as a lost cause.  Too many weeds to tackle this late in the season. 

I went back to water again yesterday after work, and the sunflowers were well up, too.  Lisa, the farm educator, was there to answer any questions if gardeners showed up, and she told me the culprit eating my beans was the cucumber beetle (I guess it isn't too picky what it eats).  She plucked one off a bean leaf and squashed it.  Still, she's pretty confident that the beans will continue to grow and produce, so we shall see. I've brought in my bottle of "Garlic Barrier" and will mix up a batch to spray the leaves.  Meanwhile, I gave everything another drink and headed home. 

As I contemplated my own garden at home this weekend, I made a decision:  there was just no way I was going to be able to broadfork a whole garden this year.  If I wanted to grow enough veg for the winter, I was going to have to take drastic measures.  So, on Monday I purchased 10 yards of topsoil from a stone business in town.

Additional purchases to make the garden happen that day were landscaping cloth to lay out on the paths (I usually say "no" to this product, but sometimes we give in to the easy route), and some marsh hay and straw to use as mulch.

On Monday the weather wasn't as dreadful as it was yesterday or today, but it was still plenty hot.  After mulching the onions and spuds (got the rest of the spuds in Sunday night, as well as a few carrots), I scraped out a garden plan on the concrete-like "soil" and started laying out the cloth in the pathways. 

Then, one wheelbarrow load at a time, I started to haul soil.  As each bed was completed, I planted it with beans, peas, greens, sunflowers, cucumbers and calendulas, and topped it with a layer of marsh hay.  Everything got a good watering, which didn't work out quite as planned, for despite the protective layer of hay, soil washed away onto the landscape cloth.  

 By about 9:30 PM I had reached my limit for the day.  I'd made a good dent in the 10 yards of soil (will there be enough for all ten beds?), and I had used most of the landscape cloth.

Now I just have to wait for the weather to break before I can do any more work (I simply refuse to toil in 95 degree heat and high humidity).  In the meantime, I need to get some more landscape staples to anchor the cloth, sort through the seeds and figure out which veg I need to get in still.  And then we need to look at a fence - deer, woodchucks and rabbits are quite prolific here, not to mention raccoons, which shouldn't be a problem unless I plant corn.  I may have to rethink that one.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Labor of Love

Why do we toil 
in hardpan soil 
when it is so much easier to 
schlepp off to the store and 
purchase a sack of veg?

 Because there is nothing quite so satisfying 
as saying "I did this."  

(Unless it is eating a meal in which nearly every ingredient was brought to bear by the sweat of your brow and the grease of your elbow.)

 Toby watches over the onions.

 Hm...looks like asparagus to me!

Sometimes I just need to remind myself
that the fruits of my labors are worth
the labors.

It's time to get out there and dig some more!