From Monday through Friday of last week, we had gloriously sunny, warm, dry, windy conditions that rapidly started drying out the ground for all the projects we had lined up. We made excellent progress, wearing ourselves out in the process such that when rain finally began to fall on Friday, we were almost (but not quite) grateful for it. Progress included:
Getting many garden & field beds cleaned up, hoed, shaped, and ready for planting. Some of these, particularly in the field, took some work as we hadn’t kept them quite fully maintained last year. We do all this work manually, which takes time and energy but results in excellent soil quality and no reliance on equipment that would still get bogged down in these conditions and do more damage to the soil than benefit. Below is a set of narrow field beds ready to go:
Seeding and transplanting aren’t terribly photogenic, but we got lots of things started. Radishes, lettuce, and peas are already up, with more newly seeded along with beets. Onions will be transplanted soon. Some early brassicas are seeded for our spring saute mix. Garlic is looking great. We’ll have a later post on what’s growing and what to look for at market in a few weeks.
Prior to last week, we finished another significant project, inoculating a set of fresh-cut logs with shiitake mushroom spawn. This is another long-term test project to see how we do; with lots of logs potentially available, this could be a good diversification if we can manage this test set effectively:
I was also able to make some progress on fencing projects. We’re rebuilding the market garden fence this year, putting in better posts & gates and a tighter, more secure fence that can be electrified if needed. Near the end of the week, things had finally dried out enough for me to auger the first holes and start setting posts:
I also made progress on updating the field fencing & gates (not pictured). Both entrances to our main field needed new & better gates, the posts needed to be reset with concrete, and the fences needed to be extended higher to keep acrobatic deer out. Both sets of gates are installed with solid posts, and I have the fence extensions installed, just needing to run new lines along them, which will happen soon. Take that, out-of-season venison.
I was able to collect and deliver three loads of cedar firewood to Goatsbeard Farm, who use it as a hot fuel in the outdoor wood furnace that pasteurizes their milk. There’s more to come, but at least I can get the truck into where it is.
The biggest accomplishment of the week, though we can’t quite take credit for it, was the successful installation of a trenched, frost-proof water line out to our main vegetable field and pastures. I’ll have another post dedicated to this decision & process, but the contractors did a great job of squeaking this big job through just ahead of the 1″ rainfall we received Friday afternoon through overnight that turned things back into a mudpit. We now have on-demand, year-round water throughout our vegetable field and near most pasture areas. This is a huge resource for us and will make many things possible:
Looking back at the projected project list
for this dry week, I think we did as much as was humanly possible. The most important and pressing projects moved forward, and the rest will come with time, if we don’t get too much more rain. Overall, we’re in as good shape as we could reasonably hope for at this time of year, given the conditions we’ve had to work with so far.