Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's New At The Farm? 1/28/09

As we near the end of January, the time to start thinking about plans for this year's garden is upon us. What changes will we make; what crop shall we grow more of and which crops shall we not plant at all? How much better will we do things this year? How will we keep up on the planting and weeding and watering and harvesting? How will we accomplish all we've set out to do and still have some time to do some other fun activities before summer slips away? Here are a few thoughts I'm going to implement this season.

I'm not going to plow my garden this year. I plowed it last year; the first year in forty it had been plowed and it looked like a kid plowed it. Better to till it before any farmer friends see it. I dragged up all kinds of roots and rocks; stuff that's been buried for quite some time. And the size: originally I had planned on planting half of it and cover cropping the other half. Well, I planted it all two years in a row. Now I don't mind growing some extras but this is getting a bit much! Last year's garden had 150 feet of green beans; I need 20 feet. The goat ate most of the balance. I did cut back on potatoes: from 400 feet to 300 feet. I like growing potatoes but I think 400 pounds of them is a bit much for two people.

Leeks! She had to have them. I like onions but am not particularly fond of leeks; I find them bland. OK, I'll grow some. I bought some plants, planted about fifty of them and the rest went sailing off into the fencerow. Planted, weeded, watered and they're still there. No leeks in 2009.

And, yes, I will cut the garden in half.

Put something over the popcorn to scare the birds away. We would have had plenty to eat this winter but the birds preferred to eat it last spring. Blackbirds I think, as the garden is near to several swamps with cattails. Bird scare tape and bird balloons work fine as do those CDs that seem to be everywhere. If I string them above the crop by a couple of feet perhaps I'll have some popcorn next winter.

Increase my use of plastic mulch. OK, OK I've heard the whole thing about plastic mulch. I've also seen what it will do: allow me to grow warm season crops here without weeds and worries about dry soils. I can grow melons here without too much concern. I can have oodles of cukes, summer and winter squash, tomatoes, peppers and some flowers with no weeds using plastic mulch. If I use row covers, which I usually do, I can grow all the above mentioned crops without insects bothering my plants or the occasional driving rain turning my crops into broken and useless plants. Last spring I put down 100 feet of poly, planted cukes, summer squash and tomatoes and still had 35 or so feet left. I direct seeded some castor beans. They grew much better than the ones we transplanted into the field at Johnny's. I grew so many summer squash, and most everyone grows way too many, the goat and the chickens feasted on them most of the summer.

Strawberries; take better care of them and not plant quite so many. 150 plants is more than adequate for the whole neighborhood. I'll plant 50 this year and take better care of them. I'll put them in my regular garden and not up on the hill. I dislike that garden up there anyways; I think I'll put that all into brambles. Plant a few more fruit trees; like some apples and get some mulch around them. The old mulch is getting pretty thin. And add a heavy layer of mulch around the blueberries. And start a new rhubarb patch; leave the old one for the chickens. And I've got to plant fall carrots and rutabagas in July!

And spend more time in my boat – yep, looks like another busy year.

Until next week, Brian

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