Saturday, June 20, 2015

Decision Making

On the eve of the Summer Solstice this garden has never looked better!  There are several crops producing food today and the weeds are well under control.  Most significantly, I think I have made some good decisions and been willing to terminate some shaky plantings and re-plant while the season was still young.

To the left you can see a row of carrots and a row of spinach.  Both were originally planted on April 21 with very high mortality.  I took the decision to tear out these weedy rows and re-plant a month later (May 22).  Today these two rows look very strong.  Even more interesting, the new spinach looks almost the same as a couple of surviving plants from the April 21 plantings.

Filling in some spotty bean germination with lettuce.  I'm not happy with all my decisions to "fill in", but I hate to waste space in the garden.  To the far right is that strip of barley and red clover planted in early April.  The barley drowned out in all but the high spots, but the clover really took nicely.  I am curious to harvest the barley--it will be a first.  There were some weeds which I pulled out by hand.  I also gave up on my onion seen-saving experiment and tore them out with a potato fork.  Once that strip between the corn and barley is clean, I will probably put some cover in.

Potatoes are insanely strong!  The purple cherokee tomatoes look fantastic, and I have some OK pepper plants in that row as well.  The basil in the next row over is clean and coming up well.

Corn in the low field has been cleaned up nicely.  I still have not seen any of the re-planted stuff come up yet.

Never got a single radish out of the big field.  I gave up on them and tore them out yesterday and filled in with a giant tray of tomato seedlings that my brother in law Eric gave me.

There are a few beets of this size in the field now.  The row was mostly thinned but there is about 10' that I never really got to.
Peas began on Monday of this week.  I think they will be strong a reliable producers, but I have no idea for how long.  Today I picked maybe 2 pounds, and the field will probably produce at least a pound a day for awhile I'd say.  These are little marvel peas, an heirloom.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cart rehab

Sebastian & I busted the mounting for one of the shafts on the cart moving compost a couple weeks ago, and I figured it was long overdue for a stronger installation and nicer shafts.  The old shafts were made of buckthorn branches and the installation was definitely of "Our Gang" quality.

I had some used white oak fence boards that looked like they had been outside for maybe 20-30 years, but in using them I found they all had very solid centers.  So I ripped them up until I had enough strips that were maybe 3/16" x 2".  I made a jig on the workbench and glued them up one at a time into 5 plys, in a curve that fit the cart and Sebastian.

Here you can see one rough blank after gluing, and the second shaft freshly clamped up.  It was cold in the shed and I ran a space heater for at least two days to get the glue to set.  I used ordinary white carpenters glue, outdoor type.

I was worried about gouging with the drawknife so I ordered an old spoke shave on Ebay.  I used a block plane and the spoke shave to shape the shafts.

Here's how they looked after shaping...

Dry fit with Sebastian...

And installed after 3 coats of varnish.  I will install loops for the britchin/tie backs once I have a donkey in harness and can see where to put them.

First try with Wilhelm!  This cart was actually built for him, but I have used it for the donkeys only in the past 4 years.  The shafts are wonderfully springy and for his narrow body they just bend in really nice.  In fact, the angle is such that no hold back is required--the shafts just naturally slide to where the re-curve and the shaft loops are supposed to be.  The shafts are so springy, in fact, that I think they are possibly too small in diameter for heavy duty work with the donkeys.  I'm not worried about breakage, however.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's growing!

The garden looks very strong, the best it's ever been by far.  Nearly every potato planted came up.  I just lost a few at the wet North end.  The garlic has not produced scapes yet, but the stalks are as thick as I've ever seen them.  Bok choi has been disappointing--it's germinating weakly, and when it comes up the leaves are full of hole from cabbage beetles (or some other insect).

The tomato transplants took very well, while the peppers struggled more.  However, the peppers were not good transplants in the first place.  There are maybe 20 celeriac plants growing, out of 144 planted in trays!  But nearly all the ones that made it to the field survived.  I think most of the one that died in the field were cultivated out by yours truly.  They look a lot like a weed, especially when they are small and weak!

The Amish snap peas that I drilled in to replace a row of failed bok choi is coming up well, although I was surprised at how slooooow they came up.  The basil is establishing nicely and I'm pleased that the row is staying free of weeds.  The flint corn has about 90% germination and I'm hopeful to have plenty of seed to save and some to mess around with.  I'm doing some hand planting in the main corn field to fill in where germination failed.  I continue to have trouble planting corn with the Earthway, and that strip is low anyway and it stays cold and wet.  Not the best corn ground.

At the East end I have set up a trellis for 2/3 of the pea row.  The re-planted row of carrots is germinating nicely and it's staying clean of weeds.  The re-planted spinach looks terrific and should be producing in 10 days.  There are more beet greens (with miniature beets at his point) than I know what to do with, and I'm ready to start harvesting swiss chard and kale at this point.  The double row of lettuce is weedy but it's ready to make salad for me.  For some reason I started a 231 cell flat of lettuce last month and I am sticking these plugs into empty spots here and there.  Oh, and the kitchen garden has a huge supply of french breakfast radishes.  The radishes in the main garden are weedy and disappointing.

The cornfield on the low West end is not as bad as it looks.  It's taken some doing to get the grass out, but now it's a fairly clean field.  I'm still figuring out what role this strip will play in the future.  I can see that the far end is just a bit too low to be very useful for a lot of things.  It stays cold and wet too long.  I am even considering raised beds in this area.

I filled in spots with this corn planter that belonged to Great Grandpa Art.  It works great, and I also tried it for planting lettuce plugs.

The middle strip.  The weak stretch of beans are some dragon tongue beans that I saved 3-4 years ago.  I'd like to get them going again here so I will just raise these few plants for seed.  You can see that the lentils look strong and the flint corn in the next row had a very high germination rate.  Amazing, since it was just one weak ear that survived the raccoon onslaught last year!

This is the East strip of rye.  The single row of squash is taking well and most of the remaining clods of rye have been dealt with, at least enough for the squash to grow and produce.  Not sure what I'll do with the remaining 8' or so--I may just work it up along with the new strip and put more cover crop in.  This is going to be A-prime ground next year if I prepare it properly.  It's clear now that this high and dry ground is very valuable and productive once the old tree roots are rotted away and worked out.