Friday, March 15, 2019

The Itch of Spring

Well, here we go.  I am diving into this thing called Blogger for the first time in my life.  We'll see how it goes.  I have heard so much about blogging, but I don't know that I fully understand it just yet....but we're going to try.  

I may set up more than one blog to connect to my larger project, which is the main website we are building over in Google Sites.  A brain child we cooked up to share our journey through home remodel projects, garden and landscaping projects, and our journey into a bit of sustainability.  This blog, will focus on the growing side of all we have going, and I will attempt to focus my efforts on talking about the yard and garden and what were doing in the hope that it will benefit those of you interested in trying some of our methods out for yourself. 

With that, lets get to the good stuff!!  

Can anyone else feel it or just me??  Spring is in the air and I have an itch to get out into the garden!  I have a number of plans for this year that I just can't wait to get off the ground.  We are in the middle of a pile of different projects here and I am keeping my fingers crossed that they go smoothly and don't keep me from getting what I need to get done outside.  Here is a short list of plans I have for the next few weeks.  

1.  Start some seeds in the greenhouses.  We are fortunate to have two greenhouses here on the property, one made from a crude hoop house we built years ago out of cattle panels as a mobile chicken run.  I told my uncle then that it would make a great greenhouse, so when he was done with it, he let me take it and now it is the greenhouse I envisioned it could be.  We also have an old existing greenhouse on the property that is badly in need of some newer sheeting, but for now, its functional.  I have been using it as a housing option during the winter for our chickens and rabbits, an idea I got from Polyface Farms which has worked incredibly well for us.  This past fall however, I built a wall in the middle, separating the south side of the house into a growing space, separate from the chickens and rabbit pens.  I am anxious to get in there and see if we can get anything to grow. Now that the weather has started to warm up, these spaces are getting plenty warm during the day to make something happen so we'll see. 

2.  Soil Blocking.  As part of the seed starting this year I am going to be experimenting for the first time with soil blocking.  I have always used seed starting trays and modules, but I am excited to have a chance to use the soil blocking method and see how it goes.  I will be sure to post some updates on that along the way. 

3.  Compost Maintenance.  I have been composting for a few years now, but it seems every year I get more and more into it.  This year is no different as I have two large piles that have been sitting all winter and are ready for a good turning over to get things cranking again.  My general protocol for this is to clear out the summer chicken house of all its bedding.  I then take the over wintered piles, and layer them with layers of the aged chicken bedding.  I find that this gets a nice hot pile going and results in some great compost within a few months if I turn it regularly, which is just in time for a good top dressing in my beds as the summer veggies are starting to take off. 

4.  Clean Up the Beds.  I always seem to overwinter a few things each year that should or shouldn't have been left.  This year I think the local deer herd has enjoyed the Kale plants I let go all winter....which by the way grew for an amazingly long time.  If you have never grown kale, holy cow talk about cold hardy.  I will be loading my garden with extra kale plants late this summer.  I couldn't believe how well it grew into the winter. At any rate, its time that they get pulled and thrown into the compost.  There are some vines that need to be pruned, weeds just starting to poke through, and more than a few places where plants have volunteered and need to be relocated.   

5.  Fruit Tree Maintenance.  Like the grape vines in the garden, I have a few trees scattered around the property that need some attention.  I probably should have pruned them before the weather started warming up like it is now, but maybe I still have some time.  I might even break out the dormant oil spray and hit a few of the trees to try and keep the pests in check some this year. By the way.... read labels.... Did you know that the dormant oil spray you buy in the garden section is just mineral oil with an emulsifier?  That fancy "e" word just means a drop or two of soap to help break up the oil when you mix it with water...... I bet you can get soap and mineral oil way cheaper at the drug store!  

The way things seem to go around here, that's a pretty good list.  With any luck, here in the next couple weeks I can get at least a start on a few of these tasks.  

Ready or not my gardening friends, spring has sprung for a lot of us..... and I for one, couldn't be happier!  

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