Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Field preparation

Besides the garden areas, I worked on preparing the soil in two small fields during the last couple of days. Each of these fields is about half of an acre in size. Our small corn field was in one of them last year while the other one lay fallow. Actually, I disked it and seeded it with spring wheat last year, but the spring wheat idea didn’t work too well. So, I just let the field lay. I bush hogged it and then had it limed last fall.

017Last year’s corn field is near the alfalfa field, down past the pond. I was going to grow several different varieties of dried beans in it this year but decided not to after all so that I might have more time to devote to working on the house. I was undecided about what to plant in it until this week. I had bought some Austrian Winter Peas to plant a year or so ago, but did not get the chosen field worked and ready for them. I stored them in an old freezer in the barn which was supposed to keep the mice out. I say supposed to because they found a way in anyway. I did finally stop them – 018they were more interested in the corn I had in there than the peas, though. Three years ago I planted a half acre in peas and oats and made hay off of it. The goats love it. So, I decided to plant the field in peas and oats for this year.

To begin prepping the field, I sub-soiled it. Then, I disked it two times. I used the field cultivator on part of it to rake some of the corn debris to the sides of the field. Then, I broadcast 100 pounds of oats and about 85 pounds of peas over the field. Finally, I disked the seeds into the dirt. I wasn’t worried about having a perfectly prepared seedbed, just having the dirt loose enough for the seeds to be in good contact and lightly covered with it. I may not make hay off of it but, rather, may pasture the cows on it later and till in what’s left. Either way, I hope the peas will help add some nitrogen to the soil since they are legumes.


The other field behind the ridge is long an narrow. I didn’t want to plow it, but I did want to work it up a bit. We’ll grow corn along with winter squash and pumpkins in it this year. I began by sub-soiling this field and then disking it a couple of times. It actually worked quite nicely. 030Yesterday before taking back the equipment I borrowed from Gill, I decided to go ahead and run the field cultivator through. It worked great. In fact, the cultivator tried to go in deeper than my tractor could pull – the wheels would spin when it was too deep. This really broke the ground up nicely. I’ll let it sit for a few weeks now since we won’t plant corn until May. It should disk up quite nicely at that time.

It’s good to get some of the soil preparation work done now. I have so much to do on the house, but I need to be able to have other things done and out of the way so I can focus on it. This time of year and during the summer, there are so many things that need doing that I just don’t seem to get to some of them.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Playing in the dirt

We’ve had some nice weather the last few days. The temperature has been very nice – in the 70s the last couple of days. There was a chance of rain at the end of last week, but thankfully we didn’t get any. I’m thankful because that allowed things to continue to dry out enough so that we could work on the gardens.

Three weeks ago I was able to disk the garden areas, including the new ground in the turkey pen I tilled last fall. This particular spot is within a fenced area where we’ve grazed goats on a rotational basis in the past. For the last year or so, the turkeys have enjoyed it as their main paddock. That’s why we call it the turkey pen garden areaturkey pen. It’s a nice, level piece of ground near the main garden area. It’s grown some nice clover during the last six years since we’ve lived here. I worked it up because of its apparent fertility and because it’s already fenced. We had problems with deer eating things in the garden last year, primarily sweet potatoes. Although deer can easily jump over the 4 foot fence around the perimeter of this area, the existing fence will make it easier to keep them out. Adding extensions above the field fence will not be too difficult.

Last week I hauled two truck loads of manure from the stock yard in town and dumped on the turkey pen garden. Each load was approximately 3500 pounds and consisted of a lot of saw dust. I spread it out with a shovel and rake as evenly over the ground as I could after dumping it – completing this task on Sunday of this week.

On Monday, I borrowed some equipment from a friend. He’s a very generous and kind person who we are truly blessed to know. I borrowed his  sub-soiler, tiller, broadcast spreader, and field cultivator. I had hoped to use the spreader to put lime on the garden areas. sub-soilerHowever, it didn’t work for spreading lime (it’s designed for broadcasting seeds). So, Dad and I threw lime out of the back of the truck onto the turkey pen ground. We dumped what was left over to be added to other garden areas as desired (we didn’t want to throw it by shovel over the other garden area which is much larger).

I used the sub-soiler on both garden areas and two other small fields. It helps to open the ground up fairly deep – about 18-24 inches with this single-shank sub-soiler. We actually spread the lime after doing the sub-soiling. After that, I tilled both areas, preparing the ground for planting.

main garden areaIt’s still early in the season, but weather like we’ve had starts the itch to play in the dirt. The things that can be planted at this time are the early-season, cold-hardy crops. While I continued working on the other fields that needed to be worked, Dad pl anted onions and potatoes yesterday and today. We usually don’t grow enough onions. So, we have purposely set out to change that this year. Dad bought 5 pounds of onion sets a week or so ago, and he set out several in his garden near his house. Dad planting onionsI bought 6 pounds of onion sets last week and another 10 pounds on Monday. Dad planted all that I bought and what he had left over – about 18 pounds of onion sets (about 1,000 feet in 20 rows). I hope they grow well so that we can have enough onions this year!

Dad finished planting the onion sets this morning. After lunch we sorted out some of the smaller potatoes we have left over from what we grew last year (we planted 100 pounds of Kennebec potatoes last year). Dad put these in the ground this afternoon. I don’t know how many pounds we had to plant, but he planted 13 rows (each row is 40-45 feet long – so about 500 feet of potatoes). We will plant more Kennebecs and some Yukon Gold (I bought 50 pounds of Yukon Gold seed potatoes on Monday).

 planting potatoes planted area

Our idea is the to try to grow plenty of the staples: onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. I made a hot bed for starting sweet potato slips. I dug a 2 feet by 3 feet hole 12 inches deep, added about 5 inches of fresh cow manure, and put 3 inches of sand on top of that. I’ll lay out sweet potatoes saved from what we grew last year and cover them with more sand. The manure will heat up, keeping the soil warm (sweet potatoes need warm soil to sprout). The sweet potatoes will send up multiple sprouts. When they’re big enough, these slips can be twisted off and planted in the garden (once it’s warm enough outside – they don’t like it cold). I hope to put out about Dad on tractor400 sweet potato slips with the primary variety being Georgia Jet (these did the best for us last year out the five varieties we grew).

I’ll be starting tomato seeds soon. We saved seeds last year. We grow open-pollinated and heirloom varieties so that we can save seeds. There will be a lot more things to get started and planted in the next 6 weeks or so, but it sure is nice to get started on the process. There’s just something about playing in the dirt.

Yes, we did come home

I haven’t posted anything since we were in North Carolina a month ago. We had a nice visit and did make it home safely. I just haven’t spent any time blogging since, but that will change tonight. I have some things to write about. Life goes on here even when I don’t blog about it.


  © Blogger template 'Minimalist G' by 2008

Back to TOP