In which there is a horse update, and the garden is almost awake

Fiddle's rehab is progressing steadily.  
She is up to 20-minute walks twice daily now--after next week,
I'll be able to add a few minutes of in-saddle work too.



I'm BORED!

I don't have any new video of the frisbee trick.  She is now pretty good about picking up the frisbee and holding onto it until I take it away from her.  The next refinements I want to add are walking to the frisbee when I toss it (gently) a few feet from where we are standing, and handing the frisbee to me instead of just standing with it in her mouth.

As before, this trick is not important, so there's no time crunch.  It's just something to keep us both from going bonkers.  Otherwise, our only alternative is 

Are you checking out the fabulous purple coat?
It's called "The Dragonwalker" and I'll have deets about it
coming soon. You definitely want this thing.

Walking.  

Walking is not very interesting.  Spooking is more interesting, but it is not permitted, which leaves only walking.  Which is not very interesting.   Sigh.

Here's something else that helps.  Or rather, somebody:

I have no idea how to spell his name.

He's called Kaleaf...err, Kahleif?  Caliph?  Gahhhh.   

He's everything I don't like in a horse:  Grey.  Arab.  Gelding.  (sorry, lytha, but you knew that about me years ago!)

Anyhow, he's a nice little guy, and he's looking for a home, and I'm hoping that I've helped to find him one of those.  With luck, I'll have more details about that soon.  

He's pretty fun.  Not as a horse for me (because see above for the list of things I don't want in a horse, and besides I have a horse), but...well, you'll see.  Stay tuned.

Here's what is keeping my attention this week:

This is Garden 2.0, aka the Early Garden

I am not an Avid Gardener--in fact, I am an extremely lazy gardener.

Fortunately, I have support staff.

The Undergardeners

 Here are some blog posts about the garden if you'd like to see the whole process, beginning-to-end: 


I had a Facebook query this week about getting a garden started, so let me walk through the process a bit.  

The first year we were at the Farm (2009!) our neighbor rototilled a patch of the backyard, and we stuck seeds in and walked away.  The result was...not very spectacular.  Our soil is gravelly and doesn't have a lot of native organic material to feed vegetables.

But that's okay!  I live with several natural soil amenders!


Chickens are better than a rototiller...plus, you know: eggs!

As soon as the vegetables are finished in the garden each year, I pull out the stems, roots, vines or whatever is left over and throw those on the compost heap.  Then I cover the garden in manure and sawdust from Fiddle's stall, sprinkle with some chicken feed, and let the staff take over.

We also dump kitchen waste and fallen leaves into the gardens during the winter.  The chickens investigate everything thoroughly, pull it all apart, and add their own personal fertilizer to the mix.

Each garden is fenced to keep chickens in and dogs out.  Theoretically, you should only put vegetable waste into a garden as compost, but the chickens will reduce absolutely everything except banana peels to crumbs in a few days, so we toss in bones, moldy bread, and coffee grounds too.  

It all disappears fast.

All winter long, I add stall cleanings to the gardens. My gardening timeline is always a little vague, and very dependent on the weather, but here's a basic guide to the beginning of the season:

March
In early-March, I try to turn all the soil in the early garden over at least once, to mix everything together.  Some years, it's too wet for that, and every once in a while it's frozen solid.  But usually there's a day or two of dryness, and that's all it takes.  

I use a shovel and not a gas-powered rototiller.  The tiller digs too deeply and brings up too many rocks, which I don't need. When the garden is still "young" (2 or 3 years old), the shovel goes down until it hits rock, and then I turn over the dirt without adding in rocks.  After the three-year mark, the amended soil is so deep that I would have to dig at least 2 feet down to hit that gravel layer. At that point, I turn the soil one- or one-and-a-half shovels down, and let the stuff down low just stay where it is. 

In mid-March, I turn the soil again, but only where I intend to plant. I want the walkways between planting rows to compact down with my feet  to discourage weeds.   I let the chickens sort through the soil as I dig, as they will eat emerging weeds and slug larvae. On planting day, the birds get moved away from where I'm working so they won't eat my seeds!

Around Saint Patrick's Day, I plant peas, potatoes, spinach, radishes, and arugula.  All that stuff goes in the Early Garden.  Everything else goes in the Later Garden.  I trade the gardens back-and-forth each year, since the Later Garden stuff tends to need richer soil, whereas the Early Garden stuff tends to build soil. 

Before putting seeds in the ground, I gently rake the areas where I'm going to plant.  Then I use the Weed Dragon to burn the entire surface of the garden:  planting areas, walkways and margins.  That gives my seeds a teeny headstart against the dock, pigweed and buttercups that would otherwise take over.

I stick the stuff in the ground, and walk away.  There's no point in adding fertilizer, because my entire garden is made of fertilizer.  There's no point in watering the seeds in, because we live in a Swamp.  

Sing a little song if you like, or say a little prayer.  Whatever works.  

I like a long-handled hoe to discourage weeds once my plants are up.  Before that, it's a job to be done by hand.  

April
Our last frost-date is usually around my birthday in mid-April, so I start turning over soil in the Later Garden the first or second week of April.  Same process as before:  Turn it all over the first time, and right before planting, turn over the planting beds only, using a shovel. Let the chickens help.

On planting day, burn it all, then add seeds.

In April, I like to plant carrots, parsnips, and more spinach.  

Pulling weeds for a few minutes each morning keeps weeding from becoming an enormous chore...but if I can't pull weeds every day, I MUST make time to pull them every week.  Soil this fertile has got to grow SOMETHING, so it's important to be proactive about weeds.   


Planting beds in the Late Garden, 2013


May
Around Mother's Day, I burn the soil again, and then plant all the beans and set out the tomato starts.  
(Avid Gardeners grow tomatoes from seeds.  I get starts from the feed store or from friends.) 

Weed, weed, weed.  I can use the weed burner on the paths and margins for a while, but eventually I have to abandon the fire and just use my long-handled hoe.

With climate change, I find that I'm able to start planting pumpkins, cucumbers, and butternut squash in late May.  Used to be, those things had to go in June 1st, and then race for ripeness before the frost in October.  These days, we've got a little more time.  If the weather is warm and dry, I plant seeds.  If the cold rain keeps falling until June, I start the seeds in trays or buy starts.  

After that, it's summer.  And that is time for another blog post!




Comments

  1. It seems to work, you have enough to share and can every year. I'm giving up on zucchini until I live in Seattle again. This year I'm only going to plant green beans and some carrots for the animals. The herbs seemed to have survived the Winter, but it's still too cold out to plant even in the greenhouse, I think.

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  2. OH, and all this time, I never knew you didn't like grey Arab geldings, although I knew you didn't *prefer* them : )

    I like your weed burner. Glyphosate is next on the list to be illegal here, though I don't use it much, I mostly use Dicamba. Did I tell you I had to sign my name and a contract to buy Glyphosate? Like Sudofed back home at the Safeway pharmacy.

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