50 Bales

straw-delivery-2009Yesterday we got fifty bales of straw delivered in two loads by Mike–now we have a nice big stack for mulching aisles in the west and northcentral gardens.

Hadn’t thought too much about the science of stacking bales, but there is a secret to it, related to my fellow gardener Kelly (who took the above image) and I by the more experienced farmers, Mike and Harry: cut side up on the bottom layer, cut side down on the upper layers.

This took me awhile to get the hang of until the obvious science of the thing resolved itself in my brain–grass stems are straws, and straws suck up moisture.  The cut side of the bale is where the ends of these little tubes are exposed, so you don’t want them sucking up water from the ground or the outside of the stack into the middle of the pile.

Yesterday’s work also involved planting that row I was blogging about yesterday.  As much as I was leaning toward broccoli raab, I went with turnips.  The reason for this is that I already have lots of greens in the ground, but only radishes for roots (well besides potatoes–actually tubers, plus onions).

A little more research showed me that radishes and rutabagas are relatives of the brassicas, which makes me assume turnips are, too, given their spunky bite.  So, a double row of my standard Hakurei (white) and Scarlet Queen (red) turnips went in the northcentral garden with a length of row cover to protect them from flea beetles.

Harry came out and did some tilling (I have four more rows ready in the northcentral garden!) and was also cleaning up a spot that has not really been developed connecting the east and northeast gardens. I dug out the chive and sage plants that have long been residents of that area, and replanted the chives in the west garden.

Then. amongst the tufts of grass sprouting there, Harry spotted our little spring garlic patch–planted a couple years ago and quietly reproducing itself.  Not wanting to till into it, he pointed it out to me, and I got to work digging the clumps and separating the little garlic plants from the grass and the soil.

spring-garlic-2009This is most of the garlic–Kelly got a big handful to take home and eat, and I pulled out the twenty or so biggest ones to re-plant elsewhere in the garden either here at home or on the farm. We also clipped a half a bag of emergent stinging nettles from the garden for Kelly to take home and try for dinner.

Between deliveries of the bales, we pulled all the floating row cover out of the shed, removed what landscape staples were still attached to the fabric, and rolled it all up–separating the longer lengths from the shorter and cutting out damaged sections. This is a dusty, unpleasant job, but it’s much easier with two people.

I didn’t think, at the end of the day, that I’d really accomplished that much out there, but the aches in my hands and back told a different story. There’s always so much to do, and things are really looking a little better everyday.

At the end of the day, when my help arrives, I’m generally pretty tired already–it’s nice to have that little extra push to get one or two more things done–especially projects like the row cover organizing that I’d been dreading.

Yesterday evening was tiring, but made better by working with friends as gobbles drifted up over the ridge to the east from our resident flock of turkeys as the sun descended in the western sky.


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