Is it strange to be so excited–so ecstatic–over the establishment of new garden plots? Perhaps this is something that only fellow gardeners, homesteaders, and farmers can understand–and if that is the the case–then I imagine that I am in good company.
The lingering winter delayed our farm expansion quite a bit, but now that the snow is gone and mud-season is behind us, we’re making slow, but steady progress.
We had some selective cutting done last year in the forest of our property, and the logging crew left behind quite a mess which had to be cleaned up before we could have any tilling done–bits and pieces of branches, tree limbs hidden beneath the dried and toppled grasses, and even several truck loads of firewood that all had to be moved. Apparently things had begun to warm up last year while the logging crew were here, and Keith had asked them to finished up early, because we didn’t want the field all rutted up by the skidder. The crew left behind a number of full sized logs that had not yet been chunked up or split into firewood–so those had to be moved too. And to top it all off, raspberry canes and honeysuckle have been claiming parts of the field for the last few years.
It took us several days of hard and dedicated labor to get the field prepped.
Since we do not yet have a tractor here at Runamuk, I hired a local man named Ken Mclean to do the job of plowing and tilling the field. We do have access to a rototiller, but the shear size and scope of the project led me to hire someone with a tractor who can do the job better and faster than Keith would be able to with the tiller. That being said, we have a smaller plot further up the hill near the homestead, where Keith will till another garden bed.
Ken brought 2 tractors to the farm–one for plowing, and one for tilling. We’d never seen anyone plow a field before, so we didn’t really know what to expect–but since the field has been fallow for the last 30 years it seemed to make sense to plow before trying to till.
We basically followed the tractor around the field, combing the farrows to collect the rocks that cropped up. Several pieces of the hand-cut granite blocks the ancestors used as building foundation surfaced during the plowing and tilling process, as well as a number of antique tractor pieces that had been lost to time and nature.
We’d had a few glimpses of the soil beneath the matted sod, but the fine soil that was exposed through the plowing and tilling process look just beautiful. To a gardener, soil is a marvelous thing–to see this wonderful, rich loam that I get to work with–is exciting and inspiring for me.
There was one massive rock that just could not be moved (looking at the picture above, you can see the top of the boulder–mid-way between the apple tree and the hay bale, there is a patch of brown that is the rock). My father-in-law warned us about it–they’d had a garden in the far corner there, when my husband was just a toddler, he’d hit it with the tiller several times–tried to dig it out, but to no avail. Ken tried to move it with his tractor today, but there was no budging the colossal boulder. Some day we may have it excavated–but for now, we’ll just work around it. Maybe I will call it “the Colossa-Stone”–lol.
All said and done the market garden totals roughly 5500 square feet of growing space–or just about an eighth of an acre. Utilizing intensive gardening methods, succession sowing, and companion planting–you’d be surprised how much food this plot will be able to produce.
The next step is to erect a fence–partly to deter the rabbits and gophers, but largely just to keep the dogs out of the garden. Often Ava and Willow roam the property freely, which helps keep the deer and the local bear at bay. But I also plan to use our Have-a-Heart trap to catch any critters who don’t respect the boundaries, and if deer should become a problem in the future–we will take steps to protect the crops.
The beds will be marked out–36-inches wide, and running the long-way down the garden for ease of irrigation and maintenance.
And when that is done the onions will be going in the ground. It is supposed to be raining off and on for the next few days, so it will be ideal for transplanting the onion plants I received from Johnnys’ Seeds. Lettuce mix will go in this weekend as well, spinach, and peas. And of course, I will be at market on Sunday with our seedlings.
Let the planting begin!!!