Thursday, April 10, 2008

Berries have arrived

Our shipment of berries from Miller Nurseries has arrived!!! Since today was mostly on the beautiful side (not too warm, but not cold; not raining, but cloudy; not filled with other obligations, PERFECT) I set about getting them in the ground. Of course, the beds which were initially prepared last fall (after a summer of cover crop) had just been through a winter of chickens. The cover crop was shredded, which is good. The weeds were mostly nonexistent, save for the odd dock and poke weed, which is great. The beds themselves only existed in my mind. Chickens seem to be great levelers.

Bed Preperation

I spent my morning (after milking, putting the animals out to pasture, feeding the bottle babies, and taking the children to school, and while leaving laundry in the washer and dishes stacked on the counter) with my two favorite tools, my Johnney's 5 tine broad fork and the digging fork I brought back with me from New Zealand. By noon the beds were reformed, amendments incorporated (with a little tiller help. The beds were a bit too wet to do it all with a tiller, but it did a bang up job on mixing the top layer. I should get one of those minis that clicks onto the weed-eater motor. Maybe if I make some money this year.) and things were ready to plant. After a pause to feed all the babies and eat a bit myself, I was back at it.

Blue Berries in Bed

All together I planted a dozen blue berries, two dozen raspberries, 100 strawberries, and 100 asparagus crowns. We wont see any kind of harvest until next year at the earliest, but it feels great to get them in the ground.

Kale in the green house

In the green house things are progressing. The lettuce and kale from the house that I transplanted last week are doing great (except some kind of creature keeps eating the lettuce. Maybe I need to park the cat in there over night. Except he tends to shred the plastic when he wants to get out. I've already had to do two repairs this year because of him. So, maybe some traps...) The section of bed I seeded with salad mix is sprouting. I think that some of them are NOT weeds. I've also started an experiment with tomatoes which seems to be working. Tomorrow will be the test, it should get near freezing tomorrow night. My unheated green house gives me about 10 degrees advantage without any additional effort. That should get my tomatoes through.

Salad Mix Sprouting

My experiment is to see if I can get more than a month head start on tomatoes by planting them in my green house. It would be great to go to market with tomatoes a month before everyone else. If I open up the ends in May after the temps have settled a bit, they won't taste like green house tomatoes, but they will benefit from the added heat.

Experimental Tomatoes with Waterer

A second part of this experiment is using semi-porous ceramic pots for watering. I read about this in a Peace Core article (when I find it I will post a link), and I've been wanting to try it. One of the "treasures" we were blessed with when we bought this place was a pile of ceramic drain tile. I plugged one end with hydraulic cement, buried it to the rim between my two tomato plants, and keep it filled with water. The theory is that the water will wick through the ceramic as the soil dries, keeping the plants watered. If it works it could be developed into a low cost, gravity fed watering system for widely spaced plants like tomatoes or winter squash. I'll keep watching and post my results.
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