Field Work

Went to the field yesterday and really got a lot more finished that planned. I cleaned out next year’s sweet pepper beds and spread them  with soil amendments. Roy hauled in a couple wheelbarrows-full of ‘nearly’ decomposed compost and spread it all around. I turned everything under the soil then shaped the beds with the bow rake. These beds will get broadcast with crimson clover at the end of the week. Then next year, after the clover has been cut down a time or two and it begins to dry, sweet peppers will get planted directly into the tangle of clover roots. The dried clover plants will act as mulch for the peppers, too.  No tilling, no turning, no nothing.

We rolled back the thin layer of hay mulch that was covering a small area of garlic to expose the soil’s surface. Onto it we added about a 1″ layer of really composed compost that should leach into the soil and feed the young garlic throughout the winter. The shoots are not up yet so this was feasible, however, if the young shoots had of been poking through the soil we would not have risked breaking them to add the compost, we would have waited until early spring. After the compost was spread we rolled the hay back onto the bed. It may be necessary to mulch the plants heavier as colder weather sets in.

Speaking of hay … I spend more time weeding the garden after applying hay than I do planting and watering combined. No more hay mulch will be added to our garden! The large pile I have left from a big roll our farmer neighbor gave us will be added to the compost pile instead. The only reason I put hay in the garden in the first place was to prevent soil erosion but from now on I’ll dump dried leaves onto the beds. I will be planting more winter cover crops like greens and radishes and clover and rye, too, or just leaving this year’s mess until next planting time. I worry about pesky insects over-wintering in unkept beds, though.

I managed to de-weed the beds where the blueberry plants will be going. I also raked down part of a small berm we had raised to control rainwater run-off. I got rid of it because it wasn’t working and it made the area hard to mow. So, the tiny berm is now a level area at the northern most end of our garden that is freshly sowed with winter rye. The rye will hold the bank and hopefully choke out some of those nasty winter weeds. I’ve also broadcast rye into the paths between the planting beds in the same area.

I’m not sure about the blueberry orchard lay-out. There are two options that we can take. One would make a triangle-shaped orchard that would cover the north/north-western corner of the garden area and probably aid tremendously in holding the elevated corner in place. The other option would be to plant in long rows that run across the width of half of the garden with one end being elevated more that the other. Either way would be great for holding the soil and both are drained well. I suppose with this being such a permanent planting that I am thinking more on it than I would be if it were an annual planting.

I’m still seeing a lot of ladybugs, bees, and butterflies throughout the garden. Bees, all kinds, really like the sweet basil. Ladybugs like the thistle. Butterflies like the few remaining wildflowers and the marigolds.

We’ve chosen the area for the muscadine orchard. Yay! This has been a task needing done for quite some time but with burn piles everywhere and no fence up yet, its been difficult to layout the field in its entirety. We didn’t get the burn piles done (too windy) nor has the fence been put up yet but things are cleaner and the shed is in its permanent spot so picking the orchard area was pretty easy. It hasn’t been measured yet so I’m not sure about the number of plants needed but I do know they will be planted late this winter, probably late January or early February.

A few months ago (okay, maybe even last year sometime) someone gave us some used lumber that had been salvage from an old deck. Roy removed nails from these 2x6x8 boards and it looks like we have just enough to frame a lean-to onto the garden shed that we can use as a germination area. Yay!  We’ve been starting our seed under flourescent lights hanging from wire racks inside our home for the past two years. It’ll be really nice to work the trays outside this winter. I think we plan to frame the lean-to with the boards, add corrugated vinyl (white or clear) to the top and about half way up the walls, and then wrap heavy plastic the rest of the way up the walls. I think. Anything will be nice.

It’s a beautiful morning. The sky is bright blue and the leaves are a fall rainbow of brilliant color. I’m very tempted to go outside to just be. But, duty calls. I must force myself to stay inside to tend to indoor chores which are just as important and necessary. I’ll pull up blinds and crack open windows, open doors and let the wind blow through. Sweep the dirt back outdoors. I’ll bake something tasty to make the house smell yummy, wash a dog or two, and take and extra long shower. I’ll start that afghan I’ve been planning for months. Life is good.