Fifty or so Canadian geese flying over my head this morning means spring is surely on its way!
Field planning is taking place now and at a feverous pace. I've received land usage estimates from the Research folks and our breeder and it looks like we'll have a very busy year. No need to plan a big garden this year - I won't have time to take care of it and if I can't take care of it; I won't have it.
My garden is - well, it's not exactly what I had in mind. Our garden spot is in an old pasture; not used for fifteen years or so. One previous owner had sheep on it 25 years ago, then he plowed it and left it, as it wasn't suitable for much. He sold the farm to a developer from whom I bought the land from. My plan was to plow it down, add some organic matter and then seed it down to enrich the soil and break down the sod; It didn't turn out that way.
My neighbors' mother wanted a place to garden so I offered my spot. I fertilized it, I rototilled it and I left it to dry out. My well meaning, but unknowing neighbor borrowed a local dairy farmer's tiller to help dry the soil out not realizing the tiller had lots of weed seed from the corn fields it had been used in. You can see exactly where he tilled, as that's where the weeds were; a healthy dose of lambsquarters, pigweed and velvet leaf. He and his mother planted the garden; not quite like I would have done, but I wasn't there either. Rows were crooked (a serious pet peeve of mine) and weeds were everywhere; they didn't consider weeds to be pests. So I spent all my spare time weeding my neighbors garden to insure weeds didn't go to seed.
They planted the usual: green beans, beets and cucumbers. I asked them to plant me some radishes (my favorite veggie). They planted the radishes in hills; that's a new one to me. I went to get some beets for supper one night and all there were were tops. All in all not something I'd do again. The next couple of years I let them into the garden once I was done picking to glean what was left.
This year, after I take a soil sample and put the cleanings from the henhouses on it, I will till it under and plant a cover for the season, on most of it anyways. There are a few things I'm going to plant: glads for bouquets in the summer, green beans for the freezer and some cukes and zukes - only because they take up so much room. One bed is going to get blueberries and perhaps some grapes, and a new asparagus bed. I've got six blueberry bushes I want to move to a more permanent home than the lawn.
On the rest of the garden - hmmm - which cover crop shall I use? Let's see: I want something that will add organic matter and nitrogen, something that I can seed without a drill, something that is easily managed as I don't have the vast array of equipment the Johnny's has, and something that doesn't overwinter . What comes to mind right off quick is a combination of sudan grass (for OM) and an annual clover like crimson. The Crimson will grow in the understory of the Sudan grass, the Sudan grass can be mowed once it reaches 4-5 feet tall and will regrow some. Cover crop mixes are nice, but if you have a small plot like I do then planting two or more crops at the same time works well too. This combination of crops will be turned under next spring once I decide on 2011's plans.
Until next week, Brian.