Full Speed Ahead–Sort of

Today was a vexing day in the gardens for both H and myself.

I headed out to the farm at about 2pm after spending the morning working on composition paper critiques and my Earth Day presentation that I’m giving in Brookings, SD tomorrow night for their Evening of Green dinner.

The last shipment of potatoes had come, and they really needed to get in the ground.  Of course, so do the rest of the cabbages and a few hundred leeks.  So, I loaded up all the above and thought at the very least I’d get the cabbages transplanted, the potatoes in, and the beds ready for a quick transplanting of leeks in the morning.

The problem is, I’ve pretty much run out of room in the gardens already.  I’m not sure how that happened–but there you have it–we need to break new ground–or at least sort-of-new ground.  The space connecting the east and northeast gardens has long been fallow and just waiting for the creation of new beds.

But the big tiller that H purchased (used) last season was off the farm and needing some repairs.  I started working up those beds with the broadfork, but the new ground needed a little help from the machine if I was going to get anything in within the next two weeks.

Did I mention it’s supposed to rain Friday and Saturday?

All these plants have got to get in before then, or it may be another week until the ground is dry enough.   The cabbages won’t hold that long.  The potatoes should have been planted in March.  And the leeks have been in their flats since February.  It has to happen.

I love H dearly, and he’s a whiz with machines, but he’s also got a real problem with proclaiming them deceased until long after any normal person would have.  As a result, the farm is home to dozens of mowers and tillers and other much larger pieces of machinery in various states of disrepair.

With the main tiller gone, he hauled out a vintage model and proceeded to work it over for about an hour before dragging it down to the garden, getting it going, having it die, cursing, tinkering, starting, stopping, tinkering some more, getting an area about the size of one bed sort of tilled and then finally consigning the thing to the machinery morgue.

Meanwhile, in order to stay out of his way, I was working up two of the last three beds in the northcentral garden for the Purple Peruvian fingerling potatoes waiting in the boxes they’d arrived in this morning.  First, I broadforked, then I went around the edges of each bed and lifted the soil with my digging fork to really loosen it up and remove all the weeds.

Next, I pulled out a long-handled hand cultivator and started working a trench down the center of each bed, breaking up any clods and clumps.  Then to the rake to pull the soil back to the sides of the beds, then back to the cultivator to work the trench deeper.

If this seems like a lot of work, it is.  But I like to trench my potatoes in the center of their beds because the extra work now makes the hilling of the tubers so much faster and easier later on.  Except, of course, it’s not really “hilling” this way, it’s simply pulling the soil you’ve mounded up on both sides of the bed back into the trench as the potatoes grow.

When I had the trenches about as deep as I wanted them, I sprinkled some organic fertilizer in the bottom, worked it in with the cultivator, and then cut open the first 5lb. box of Purple Peruvians.

Except they weren’t Purple Peruvians.  They were a multi-colored collection of regular potatoes–not even fingerlings.  I only ever grow fingerlings.

I let fly a few choice expletives, sliced open the other box, and found that at least half the order was actually what I’d ordered, and spaced the purple fingerlings in the trenches.

Since there was plenty of loose soil in the bottom already, once I have the potatoes spaced properly, I simply went along and pulled back the soil with my hand and buried the potatoes as I went down the rows.

I only managed to get two rows–about 60 row feet–planted today.  I didn’t even quite use up that first 5lb. box.  I’m not really sure what to do about the other box of potatoes because at this point, I’m not going to wait for the company to send me a replacement.  I guess if I can find a space, I’ll plant them–and then I’ll call the company and complain.  If I have time.

So, for all my grand plans of what absolutely needed to happen today, very little was actually accomplished.  Sure, I did a little watering, thistle-chopping and string trimming, too, but the cabbages and leeks are still sitting in their flats.  It will likely be a late night accomplishing paperwork so I can get out and take another crack early tomorrow morning.

And I’ll give H this–he is one determined guy.  Once he pronounced the vintage tiller dead, he made arrangements to get the main tiller back, and at six o’ clock this evening decided that if he didn’t get done what he’d been thwarted at doing today (working up that whole in-between garden area for new beds), he wouldn’t be satisfied.

I had to come in to town, of course, to make this post, to work on more critiques, and to finish up that Earth Day presentation.  But with a guy so dedicated to making sure I have the space to plant what I need to get planted, I told H that no matter what time he comes rolling in the door tonight, I’ll drop everything else I’m doing and make him a helluva supper.


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