The first of May brings us unusually warm weather; the eighties and nineties are fairly uncommon for the first of May and don't we know it! I'm not used to this heat and it slows me down considerably working in the garden. Yes, I know I said no garden this year but I had a few things I had to put in. I brought home fifteen blueberries from Johnny's and Peggy brought home three grapes. I set aside one bed on the west edge of the garden and had just room enough for them along with 25 asparagus plants and 3 rhubarb crowns. I also left a bed to the east of the blueberry bed to access it from; this will be seeded to a grass I can mow. I can use my four wheeler cart to haul bark mulch in as needed.
The blueberries will get a generous amount of pine chips for mulch. In the summer of 2008 we had deer fence installed around the farm. We seized that opportunity to cut down some pasture pine that shaded a small field. We hauled the trees out into the open and chipped all the branches. I figure there's at least 5 pickup loads of chips there and will make ideal mulch. As soon as I remove them from where they are, we can plow up that field. They'll keep the soil around the blueberries moist and acidic. The blueberries bed covers 300 square feet, so each year I will need to apply a layer about two inches deep; this will take approximately 2 cubic yards yearly.
The rhubarb and asparagus beds will get a liberal amount of compost added and tilled in. I may put some cedar logs around them so I can mound them up a bit; I have some out in the "back forty". Cedar will last many years and is all natural of course. I built raised beds around the foundation of the house twenty years ago, and they finally need replacing now. Not bad for longevity I'd say! The location I have chosen for these plantings should be ideal for maintaining the plants and for optimum and undisturbed growth.
Left to plant in the garden are some potatoes I picked up for new potatoes, a short row of green beans and a couple of rows of Gladiolas. The glads are for fresh cuttings; we cut them and put them in a galvanized bucket to place on the porch. The smaller stems get put into a bouquet and taken to my mother to brighten her house. Add a couple of dozen Brussels Sprouts plants and the garden is complete.
The first raised bed I made is about to yield its first crop of greens; what a treat after a winter's worth of supermarket greens. Another raised bed is getting devoted to onions and one more (I have yet to build), is going to be summer squash, zucchini and cucumbers. I've used sterile potting mix in the raised beds so far but I think I'll use a hefty amount of garden soil along with compost on the third one. I used potting mix to avoid the weed seed issues, but it's getting expensive.
At the farm this week we start our first of many transplanting jobs. This week onions, stock & snaps, and Chinese cabbage will go out. With the warmer than usual weather this spring, everything is bursting at the seams to get outside and get growing. Looks like cooler weather for the end of this week; more seasonable. Much of the ground prep has been accomplished and we're making beds and getting ready to start laying plastic. Most of the fertilizer has been spread and tilled in, 95% of the plowing has been done and what cover crops are left are growing rapidly before they get turned under. The turkeys are breeding; the males are strutting around like they're quite something. The tree swallows are building nests now; there's one outside my window looking in; must be wondering why I'm inside on a gorgeous day like today. Two of the greenhouses have received new plastic. One has received a new cement floor and the bench frames are in and put together. The bench tops - well - we're waiting for them. I hope they get here before we need them but I don't think so. Greenhouse 1 & 3 are filled to overflowing so we'll have to start using greenhouse 2 by the end of this week.
It's quite dry for this time of year; I am concerned it is going to be really dry this summer. After last year's rainy and damp summer, I'm already fussing about it being too dry. We'll just have to watch the weather and have all the irrigation equipment ready to go. We usually start irrigating the small seeded crops directly after we plant them; to give them optimum growing conditions and to prevent crusting of the soil while they germinate.
Until next week, enjoy the spring.