Sunday, March 28, 2010


In my exhaustion while posting last night, I forgot a fun detail.

While taking a few minutes break to walk the perimeter of the property yesterday, we found what appears to be several strongly established bramble patches (hopefully wild blackberries or raspberries), copious amounts of Garlic Mustard (invasive yes, but also delicious) a honeylocust tree, and several decent sized black walnut trees along the forest line by the creek.

And here in edible gardening world, we count such things as amenities.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Premature trees and the roto-tiller blues...

After an arduously long week at work, I was more than ready for nice weather and a work weekend at the farm. But Both Oikos Tree Crops and the Arbor Day Foundation chose to ignore my pleas for specific shipping dates (that would strategically fall during my upcoming staycation) and decided to ship my orders (including 100 Honeylocust seedlings) two weeks early. So the weekend that was supposed to be singly devoted to breaking ground and getting the early veggie varieties in is being partially usurped by needing to get about 120 baby trees in the ground.

My dad managed to borrow a friend's 17" wide, 5HP, rear-tine Craftsman roto-tiller for the better part of the next month. After gassing and oiling it up, we got it running and tilled a fair bit of what has historically been the garden bed, despite the damn thing getting gummed up underneath and constantly shearing off the bolt that holds the right wheel on (we went through 5 today).

After a week of rain and snow, it was likely too wet to be tilling, but I was starting to really feel the need to get some seeds (peas, lettuce, carrots, spinach, radishes) in the ground so they can get going while the weather's still cool.

It should be noted: after a few years, once I get the soil amended with plenty of compost and organic material, my plan is to do as little tilling as possible. But with our extremely high clay content, and having never been worked before, trying to start off with a no-till philosophy would most likely be a losing proposition.

After tilling, I actually got my high-wheel cultivator out to make furrows for the peas, which worked surprisingly well. I planted a few long rows of Paso peas. Had hoped to get more planted, but the sun was dropping low in the sky by the time we finished and we still had quite a few trees to plant.

We planted 30 some Honeylocust seedlings along the roadside perimeter of my switchgrass field. As each seedling only sticks up some 6-8" above ground level, I opted to put half a venetian blind slat by each one so I could keep track of where we planted them.

We planted a small pecan grove on the northeast side of the property between some existing trees (that will be getting the chainsaw treatment the second they begin to interfere with my edible tree pursuits), some Hazelnuts by the driveway, and two Buartnut trees by the older combine shed. Trying to imagine the size of trees that will one day be full-grown is a somewhat daunting task, and I'm still not sure I ended up putting everything in it's ideal location in terms of soil structure and drainage.

So now I am very sore, and very tired, and very much looking forward to bed. Heidi is trying hard to get over some kind of stomach bug (otherwise known as a severe case of the mud-butt), and so I can't give her any food for the better part of two days. Suffice to say, she is not happy with me at all, and it's frustrating that I can't somehow explain to her that I'm not just starving her for my own amusement.

Oh, and Richwood does in fact have a grocery store. We finally found it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Holy bat box, batman!

Just found plans online that will let me build bat boxes out of the giant pile of cheap lumber I've been accumulating.

So excited. Hello mosquito-munchin' bats. Hello free guano. Now I just need to find a sign that says "SHHHHHH! BATS SLEEPIN'"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Broccoli sprouts!

After reading about the conditions that best make broccoli sprout, I densely seeded a flat and put it on a table in the garage. Sure enough, just a few days later, I've got sprouts aplenty.

Reading Seed to Seed, I learn that I can realistically only plant one variety of Broccoli/Cauliflower/Chinese Cabbage/Etc. if I want to save seed. Looks like I'll be buying my cauliflower to pickle from the farmer's market this year...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tubex Tree Shelters

Found a great price on Tubex Tree Shelters from Oikos Tree Crops (where I also ordered some trees a while back), so I ordered a case of the 5' model. Hopefully this will help protect my more expensive fruit and nut trees when they get put in.

Coordinating with my dad to get some more barrels up here to get the rain barrel project finished, up and functional this weekend.

I'm trying to find a local store to buy some more seed potatoes, specifically fingerlings. Vegetables are all well and good when it comes to flavor, but you gotta get the bulk of your calories from somewhere...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Potatoes ordered!

Placed an order with Ronniger Potato Farm for the remainder of my seed potatoes, and an order with George's Potato Plants for 4 different varieties of sweet potato slips.

With a few possible exceptions, this should just about get me set with seed materials for everything I plan to grow this year.

Now, the hard part. :-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

tires and peppers and tired...

Finally located a convenient and plentiful source for free used tires. I'll be hauling them home 12 at a time in the back of my truck every day after work until I'm 110% sure I have all that I'll ever need. This will likely give my mom an aenursym the next time she visits, but I'll win her back with promises of bushels of delicious potatoes (I might also have to promise to set up Potato Tower Land behind a barn).

Got a bunch more seedling tomato starts repotted tonight. I'm beginning to realize that I have planted and am growing far, far too many tomato plants. Like a giant litter of edible puppies, I need to start finding homes for some of them ASAP, so their future size and presence doesn't preclude me from starting other veggies.

To that end, I got a bunch of varieties of sweet and hot peppers seeded tonight as well.

And with that, I am pooped. Hitting the sack.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Slow weekend...

Had some company in from out of town, so it was a sort of slow work weekend here at the farm. I did manage to take a few hours tonight to repot most of the more vigorous tomato starts into larger cups. Some of them managed to escape my watchful eye and got semi-wilted... I hope that I got them rehydrated in time to prevent serious damage. It's becoming difficult to keep all these different plants the proper degree of moist...

Picked up another some 15 free tires this weekend with which to build potato towers, and got a good deal on about six varieties of seed potatoes, to the tune of a few pounds each. I'll likely be placing my order for sweet potato plants tomorrow morning.

As I type this, Heidi is thoroughly zonked out on the floor by the couch. Her paws are jerking and she's making little muffled barking sounds, so I guess she's dreaming about something awesome, like attacking my feet (her most favorite past-time.) Bad wolf!