Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on making a new space for next year’s pigs, as I want to use their current yard eventually for cattle. I dug new posts and set up the fencing so that by spring time it will be ready for new animals. We had an old horse trailer kicking around the farm not doing anything. It was well beyond repair, so I used it to make a shelter for the pigs. Now that this yard is set up we are hopefully more ready to take on the spring rush…
Today was a great day for taking advantage of our frozen fields and retrieving some of next years firewood! The ground is still frozen, and the snow is not too deep, allowing for smooth passage across what will soon be a soggy field until summer hits. It is times like these that I realize how important it is to try and work using the weather to my advantage as a farmer. Today’s wood haul across the fields was very pleasant and plentiful compared to what it could have been if I waited until another day. I am learning that timing and observation are key elements to successful farming practices. – J
We found some great blackberry spots this past month on the farm, and picked enough berries to make some delicious jam! Also found some mullberry trees along the old lane-way – great for making pies 🙂 It is now time to pull all of the garlic we planted last fall and store it away to be cured. The garlic looks great this year! Now I need to find some place to store all of it…
The benefits of mulching in the garden are great, especially when growing food without the use of harmful pesticides. The first obvious reason for using a mulch is probably for weed control. Any bare soil that is left in the open to the elements is at risk of becoming overwhelmed with a variety of native plants that are well-suited for extreme and varied soil conditions. By covering the ground, the mulch serves as a barrier between plants and the environment above the soil, reducing weeds.
Another great reason to use a mulch is so that the garden plants do not require as much water from external sources. Water will eventually be lost from the uncovered soil as a result of evaporation, wind and the sun. A blanket of mulch will keep moisture as well as temperature levels constant for the plants roots, which means less time and energy spent watering.
The last big reason for mulching would be the benefit of constantly improving on the soil’s tilth and fertility. Worms & microorganisms will work to bring down the mulch layer below the surface and use it for food, creating a rich compost from its organic matter. More worm activity means greater worm holes and worm castings in the soil, which in turn help feed our plants above ground.
Mulch can be made from any organic substance, and is probably the best tool a gardener can have in his or her arsenal!
Today I managed to plant the Garlic that will grow in 2013 into the Earth! What a nice day to be out digging and scratching at the dirt. I made raised beds as I always do for planting Garlic, and plan on topping it off with a nice blanket of old straw from the barn mow sometime next week. The straw mulch will hopefully protect the Garlic cloves when the frosts arrive shortly. I love planting and working with Garlic – it has become one of my most favorite things to do here on our farm. Garlic is an amazing plant. Be sure to drop by our farm for fresh Garlic, Chicken, and Eggs! Have a Happy Thanksgiving from our family at Russwood !
Things are unmistakably moving right along on our farm now that May has arrived! Seedlings are emerging after a rainfall, and the Garlic is showing some nice growth as I walked the beds today. I will need to tend to my Rye Grass experiment that I planted before winter, as it now looks to be growing at a rapid pace. I will chop it down and turn it under the dirt, hoping for what the old timers call a “green manure” The leaves and roots of Rye soak up nitrogen that will release into the soil, while also serving for a mulch to plant into. Our broiler chickens are doing well in the great outdoors, enjoying the fresh air, pasture and sunshine of the land. I also tried my hand at building a couple of Mason Bee houses in order to attract our native bee population. They are excellent pollinators! Stay tuned, Summer is around the bend… 😉
Fall is here and its time to muck the fields! All the plots received a good dose of our special mulch/fertilizing mixture this weekend, which helps to rejuvenate the soil and prepare it for next year’s planting. The organic material will slowly break down in the ground over time, adding to its texture. Mulching also protects the bare ground from wind erosion and guards against frost damage. Our Garlic lays under a blanket of mulch over the Winter, waiting to sprout next Spring. Rose-hips are starting to bloom now as well.
In the fields: we are mulching, fertilizing and planting cover crops and Garlic for next year’s harvest. Near the Barn: our new Pump House is now winterized and ready for the cold season ahead of us. Repairs, maintenance tasks, and tidying up the farm before Winter hits. Also plenty of pruning, chopping, splitting and stacking firewood going on… Busy busy busy! Stay tuned… J