Monday, April 19, 2010

What's New At The Farm? 4/14/10

I would say that the bulk of the migrating birds are back now. The wildlife report this week includes tree swallows, turtles and abundant woodchucks. The grass is growing furiously and the Canadian geese are taking full advantage of it. Lots of ducks around and I'm sure any day I'll spot some herons. Ospreys are wheeling overhead at the house as they're building a nest near the pond behind the house. Every time they fly over the hens duck for cover thinking it's going to take them away.

The swallows are back and I've got to hustle getting the new birdhouses up. They're back earlier than I remember so they caught me unaware. I built new houses last year which I take down in the fall and store undercover to prolong their life, but I need to get them out as early as I can get out there, especially in a spring like this one. That will be a "fun" project I can do when I'm thoroughly tired of working at my desk.

It's hard not to rush the season now. The grass and cover crops are greening up, the lawns are about to be mowed and many people want to get into the gardens and plant. The unusually warm weather of the past couple of months have got us to believing spring arrived early this year. A long and hard look at the calendar and, yes, it's still very early spring. I think planting lettuce, onions and probably peas would be safe now but I'd hold off on the plants that like it warmer. I planted my raised bed last night with lettuce, radishes, greens and carrots. The raised bed is 4 X 8 and about a foot deep, filled with a greenhouse potting medium. I installed plastic pipe hoops so I can cover it with row covers to keep the insects and ducks out and the heat in. I'm anxious for some fresh radishes and greens.

I think I'll build another raised bed and put sweet onions in it for use this summer. And another one for summer squash, cukes and zukes. Building and filling two more should keep me busy this spring along with everything else I have going on. Let's see, I have more work to do on my boat, finish painting the windows in the henhouse, ducklings are due in just under a month, baby chicks due in ten days, and the chicks and ducklings I already have need to be tended twice daily still. Seems she let me go to the farm supply store without her last week; she should know better, as I came home with 12 Pekin ducklings.

And there's always the garden: 15 blueberry bushed ordered, but I have a plan. I'm going to take the outside bed of the garden, 150 feet long, and turn that into perennial fruits. They'll be 15+ blueberry bushes, a new asparagus patch, a new rhubarb patch and a patch that I can move my horseradish into. That will leave me with some room at the ends or the bed; I think I'll put in something the bees and beneficials like. I've got a couple of Canadian Gem lilac trees I need to move; perhaps I'll put them there.

Preparing the garden soil for planting all of the above takes a fair amount of work and expense. First a soil test with the labs' recommendations as to what to add for the various crops. Then I add compost and other soil amendments as needed. Then I rototill and install ground cover where applicable. Then I dig the planting holes and mix the soil with peat moss or compost for the pants. Then I plant. Then I water and place generous amount of mulch around the plants. Then I keep the strip watered all summer and weed free. Well, I'm tired now. All that work! My point?

My point is that now I've done everything right, made this land into a patch with optimum conditions for the plants I'm going to plant, then plant the best plants I can find. And where do I find the best plants; well, right here where I work; Johnny's. There's no point in doing all this work to plant "cheap" and/or marginal plants - plant the best. It's like the old saying: you get what you pay for. I'm not spending this time and money just to plant plants; I want to harvest fruits and shoots for years to come. I want to eliminate as many weeds as I can while providing the best growing condition for the plants I have chosen.

As Farm Manager at Johnny's I should have a really nice looking and productive garden, although I am reminded of a saying, something about the cobbler's kids having worn out shoes.

Until next week, Brian.

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