I think last week I mentioned Bees would be this week; I think I'll stray a bit from bees to trees... It rhymes anyways.
This time of year, with a stack of seed and plant catalogs on my desk, I start to thinking about planting trees. Last year I planted one tree; a red crab apple, in a new and small flower garden next to our vegetable garden. In 2008 I planted somewhere around 550 trees; 500 which were Norway Spruce, 500 in 2007 also NS and before that was raspberries and strawberries, pears, plums and shade trees, and even before that was a lane of flowering crabs; mostly for the partridge which roam our woods. So what will it be this year?
As I wander through the produce and fruit section in the local grocery store I envision a few Asian pear trees to go with the pear trees I have now. I think I'd better put in some apples as well. Perhaps this is the year to build a new raised bed for new rhubarb plants and add ten or a dozen blueberry bushes to my berry patch. Well, this sounds like a super busy year again so what will I cut back on or put off so I still have some free time for me? (My boat is feeling sorely neglected).
For starters the garden is going to be reduced by 75% this year. No more peas; I like frozen ones well anyways. Don't need quite so many potatoes, even though I really like growing them. Don't need 900 feet of beets for two people, we'll skip the sweet corn (can get from the neighbors), greens and lettuce mixes will go in the new raised beds I built and most of the garden will benefit from a year off with a good cover crop planted. On the crops that we do plant, we have three options for controlling weeds: plastic, mulching and cultivation.
In 2009 we planted some cool weather crops on plastic and they did as well as bare ground plants did. These crops included Brussels sprouts and broccoli. I think I'll plant some of my crops on poly; at least the ones that are in the ground quite a while like brassicas and cukes and zukes. I think I'd like to try some onions on poly along with sunflowers and castor beans - perhaps I'll use the biodegradable poly and grind the whole thing at the end of the year. Perhaps I'll try some glads on poly and mulch the rest of the gladiolas patch. Most flowers thrive on poly and that cuts down on weeding.
Mulching with bark will work for the fruit trees and the newly planted blueberries; I should probably mulch the Norway spruce as well because I doubt I can count on another wet year, nor do I want to. Does anyone know what I should mulch my fruit trees with - would bark be alright or should I use something else like wood chips or?
This year I'll have my tractor running so I'll be able to cultivate my garden. This should help cut down on the hand weeding. Last year I bought a 1941 Allis Chalmers "C" and with the help of a couple of friends, and a 1949 parts tractor I bought some time ago, we will have something up and running to cultivate with. It's due to go into his shop this month, get tuned up, swap front ends and get a fresh coat of Persian Orange paint. I know if it goes into his shop it will get done; if it goes into my shop it will sit there until I need the room then out the door it goes. I've got a full set of cultivators that I bought; the guy I bought them from didn't know what they were. Add an AC umbrella and I'll be golden! Once completed this tractor will be very much like the cultivating tractor we have here at Johnny's - the 1952 Farmall 200 that I learned to cultivate on.
My neighbor has a Farmall A he beautifully restored so he and I can go cruising on some of those hot summer nights. Yippee.
So, in review, if it can't be mulched, planted on plastic or cultivated it won't go in the garden this year. I'd like to work on adding organic matter and adding soil amendments so my gardens in the future will produce more and better produce. I'd like to also address a weed issue (galinsoga) before it gets out of hand.
Maybe next week will be Bees.