February 3, 2014

Starting Seeds

Getting ready for Spring planting.

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It’s getting warmer day by day, and now the wind has started howling. By the time the blustery season is over, Spring will be here. So, we are starting to get ready.

We had such a terrible vegetable year in 2013, with a plague of grasshoppers wiping out almost everything edible. When we finally managed to find guineas, the evil hoppers had already been around for a month. This year, we feel far more prepared to handle plagues. We have a little army of guineas and chickens to eat the bugs, and we plan on getting more poultry. Hopefully, they will control infestations before they can ever get a hold. And for smaller, more localized pest problems, there’s the old faithful: onion, garlic and chile tea with a spoonful of liquid soap.

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We have also redone the garden fence. The chickens were getting under the gate we had and over some places where the fence had gotten low (a mixture of dirt piling up and us using the same place to step over). They were under the impression that the wicking beds were their own personal baths, and they would get in them daily and kick out yet more of the soil as they nestled down in it. Now, with the fence repaired and two new garden gates which are hard at the bottom and so cannot be pushed up, the chickens can’t get in. The guineas can when they want to, but they don’t cause nearly the damage to plants and beds.

Today, we harvested vermicompost from some of the boxes that are under the rabbits in the barn. We only did three or four (out of 22 for just the adults), but that gave us about half a wheelbarrow load. We usedĀ a little to make five trays to be used for seed flats (we added sand, peat moss and ash to the worm poop), and thenĀ dumped the rest into a wicking bed.

We usually make soil blocks, but with all the water we have available to us this year, we want to plant a lot more than we usually do in dry season. So we did flats instead, enough for about 400 roots and greens, as well as three trays of alfalfa. Our first round of veggies in the making includes beet, carrot, radish, onion, turnip, swede, collards, cabbage, arugula, spinach, chard and salad mix. And we have several perennial seeds germinated and ready to put outside, not to mention some sweet potatoes sprouting.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be working on making more wicking beds and getting the first row of the orchard ready (including tree holes and irrigation). The orchard will be composed of trees and various types of perennials, making a productive and low input forest garden.

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