Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's official Garden Year 2011has Begun

Well, it is official. Our garden year has begun as the cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and salad greens went into the ground yesterday. The second round of broccoli and cauliflower will hit their prospective beds within a couple of weeks. The green peas will go into the ground this weekend along with the onions and beets. I really have my husband confused poor guy. For the past several years we have tilled into the hard pan clay inches and inches of compost. Then between each row we layered mulch that later became compost. Our soil now has a nice tilth and is deep rich dark black soil. So we are no longer tilling because it is no longer necessary and actually damages the soil and releases potential nutrients from it. Instead we are raising beds in the areas that used to be rows and planting on top of layers of unfinished compost that are topped with finished compost. We are changing from traditional rows over to more of the French intensive style of gardening now that our soil is in good health. Our intentions are that there will be less compaction and damage to the soil that we have spent years getting into good shape. This will also free up some room for larger plantings of beets, corn and sunflowers. These are good livestock crops for us and it is important that we grow as much as we can for the stock. We also have a few patches that will become a permanent herb garden and room for berries bushes. I will try to get some pics later today, but will give a brief overview. Where our rows once were, I made wide beds/rows. I first layered down some feed sacks (paper), then a thin layer of stall cleanings, then a layer of leaves,then another thin layer of stall cleanings, then soil from immediately around the bed which would be the walkway, and then finally topped with a good several inches of compost. I then scattered my seeds and covered with another thin layer of dirt from around the bed. Then the whole bed was covered with a sheet of plastic to create a mini greenhouse. The composting action of the stall cleanings will warm the bed for the seedlings along with the greenhouse effect of the plastic. But the plastic will keep in the warmth at night and protect the seedlings from any frost. I did this year's ago in my much much smaller garden and had a wonderful yield. Now the walkways are being carpeted with leaves and later all the gleanings from the barn that has been deeply bedded over the winter. The chicken coop which is also deeply bedded will start off the new garden compost pile for the year once this one is emptied. Chicken manure is really too hot to safely use straight into the garden. One thing that you must be careful of is creating too hot a composting environment in your beds that you burn up your plants. That is why it is important to use either cool manure (rabbit) or very thin layers. The cleanings from the rabbit litter boxes and the stalls of the horses is what we are using. With the horse manure it is important that there be lots of carbon material and very thin layers of stall cleanings. Since our chickens head to the stalls to scratch around first thing in the morning everything is broken down into small pieces and will add just enough heat and compost very slowly under the seedlings so that they get warmth, but no burn. The added benefit is that since the composting action is slow, nutrients will be released all through the growing season. At the end of the season, just that much more beautiful black topsoil has been created. Anyway, today we will be working on the wattle fence around the next section and then it will be time to add more crops to the spring garden. Blessings from the farm, Kat


Kelle said...

I'm green with envy, we're out til the end of Feb. before we'll even start our seeds. I've been working on prepping the beds in the greenhouse, so we can get our cold tolerant crops planted in there for an earlier havest.

Might I ask, what is a wattle fence?
We are rearanging from two chicken coops into one and will be building a new run as well. The old run's wire is breaking down and has seen many better days. We've been babying it along until we decided what we were going to do for sure.

Blessings for your day,

teekaroo said...

I'm jealous too! It's still way too cold for that here.