Thursday, May 16, 2013
A Late Start
I has been so cold for so long that I didn't even try to start the garden. I don't grow a lot of things, but I love to grow zucchini, yellow squash, herbs and tomatoes and then I can make some fried green tomatoes. I rarely find green tomatoes in the market. Hmmm. I wonder if you could make BAKED green tomatoes. Gotta look into that.
Any way, I decided to spend some time in the garden. Lee had some other things to do, so I didn't have the usual help. He generally gets giant scoop from the compost pile with the tractor and dumps it in the garden for me to work in and refresh the soil.
The fruit "orchard" (Is 8 trees an orchard? Yes, I decided.) is on the way to the fenced garden, so I had to get a bucket of bleach water to take with me. Last year I had a bout with fire blight on the apple trees. Fire blight kills the leaves and branches and they look dark brown and burned. I didn't spray for it this year and now another tree has it. You have to spray just when the blossoms are out and at no other time, or it doesn't work. You don't even know if you have it then. We weren't here when the blossoms first developed, so no spraying. But now one apple tree is badly infected. Fortunately, the Granny Smith apple trees seem to be OK this year.
I discovered ( I love Google) that you can cut off the infected branches, but you have to use a mix of bleach and water to disinfect the blades in between each cut. You don't want to spread the disease. Sadly, some of the largest branches of the tree were the most affected. I had to make some pretty severe cuts and I hope the tree can recover. We may not live long enough to have a decent crop from our fruit trees. Every year is some new disaster. At least this year the spraying I did over the winter kept the peach leaf curl at bay.
After butchering my apple tree, I went to the compost pile and filled the back of the Mule. There was still some remnants of the black weed cloth I had used in the garden from two years ago. Last year I just added a huge pile of hay on top of the existing weed cloth as a mulch, and it worked all right. But now the weed cloth has broken down and I have to start fresh.
After clearing all the dead debris and weed cloth, the hard part began.
The Mule is great for moving things around, but it is too wide to fit into the garden. I had to scoop and fling to cover the entire area with an inch or two of compost. I do this every season to add nutrients back to the soil that the plants removed. I hesitate to call compost made mostly from horse manure, nutrients, but there you have it. Plant nutrients.
When we moved here about 5 years ago, the soil was pretty bad and rock hard. We have been working in amendments every season and now the shovel just slides in. But it is still a chore to work in the new compost each year. I spread it all over the raised beds and then did some digging.
Essentially you just take a big bite with the shovel and turn it over in place. If the soil clumps a bit, I chop at it with the shovel, move over and do it again.
I do this every foot or so . It isn't a big garden, but it feels that way when I am digging in it or weeding it. I am actually pretty good about getting a garden ready. It is the follow through where I fall down. I hate the constant weeding. That is where the weed cloth comes in. It lets water through and allows the plants to breathe, but keeps the weeds out. The only bad part is that it doesn't last for more than a season or two.
I raked everything smooth and decided to finish another day. Maybe a day when I start the work at 7 AM rather than 10. It is hard to imagine it was freezing just a few days ago and now it is in the 90's. Plus I got a boo-boo.
This is not indicative of all my hard work. It is indicative of my NOT working and keeping up my calluses. So I bought a lottery ticket in the hopes of hiring out the physical labor around here. It would be my own personal effort in job creation. And that would be good for the country and I am nothing if not a patriot.
I guess I better not say that too loud. Wouldn't want to attract the attention of the IRS.