Hoe, Mow, Till, and Sow

It has been a busy beginning to the summer–with M here for an extended period and the summer crops begging to get in the ground–not to mention CSA and market harvesting and the summer class–well, there hasn’t been a lot of time for blogging.  Or for doing the laundry or the dishes, for that matter.

Salad mix harvest

A couple of the Prairie Grass Collective members came out yesterday morning for some general garden clean-up–hoeing and weeding the northcentral garden and hilling the potatoes there.

We worked on prepping the third row of tomatoes in the central garden–the first two have been planted and are doing well there after last Monday’s windstorm ripped out the first run of fabric I’d laid so perfectly.

It was perfect before that windstorm!

I added a line of concrete pavers along the south side of that fabric once I re-laid it, and will institute that as practice on all the fabric I use in the future.

The tomato planting prepwork involves raking/smoothing out the section to be planted, measuring and setting posts for the edge of the fabric/aisle and then another post for the line of holes.  Then both a twine line and the measuring tape stretch down the row between the two posts marking the line of planting holes.

Then I take a bucket of medium-sized rocks (yes, very sophisticated we are around FTFarms) and place one every three feet to mark where the hole should be dug.  The tape measure gets rolled up (so it doesn’t get skewered by the digging fork), leaving the twine line and the rocks.

Next, I work our way down the row, sticking the fork in where the hole will be and removing the rock marker, digging the holes nice and deep, removing any rocks and bindweed roots I find in the hole (rocks go in the bucket; bindweed goes in the wheelbarrow) until I reach the end of the marked-out row.

Once the holes are done, the twine line gets removed, and the fabric can be rolled out over the top, keeping the holes lined up in the center.  The fabric gets cut to length, the edges get turned under, and the whole thing gets secured with landscape staples (and now concrete pavers on that windy south side).

Because the holes are already dug deeply (making little “craters”), they’re easy to spot/feel once the fabric is in place, and only a small incision in the fabric is needed to put the plant through it and into the ground.

Each length of fabric is about 55 feet in length, and each row will take about 18 plants.  That’s pretty labor-intensive for such a small number of them, but considering this part of the garden is infested with bindweed and hasn’t been planted in a couple of years, it’s part tomato-planting project and part garden reclamation project.

The third series of holes were dug yesterday, but I didn’t have time to get the fabric in place before our work session was done.  Still, H went in and tilled the aisles, so I could sow New Zealand white clover there as a cover crop, weed suppressant, and nitrogen-fixer.

With a nice rain coming, I wanted to get that VIP (Very Important Project) done, at least.

During the morning work session, H spent some time in the shop getting another push mower up and running–then he brought it down to the garden to mow the cover crop (buckwheat and yellow sweet clover) at the bottom of the east garden.

That growth was so lush and green that I was calling him “Mr. Green Jeans” when he got done–his pants were stained such a jewel-bright color from having to keep the back end of the mulching mower open so it wouldn’t clog up with all the luxurious green matter.

I will likely wait for that area to dry out, till it again, and seed more buckwheat there.  It’s amazing how fast it grows once the weather gets warm–the crop H mowed was already starting to blossom.

I think on the next growth, I’ll wait for it to hit full flowering stage before mowing it down–that will be about the time the peppers and tomatoes will be blooming, and the buckwheat will attract pollinators into the gardens.

Today, the promised rain has come, and the temperatures are much cooler than the scorching nineties we’ve been having out on the farm in the past week.

With things looking ship-shape in the gardens thanks to all the help I had yesterday, it’s a good day to return to the house and start working through all of that laundry and those dishes I’ve been neglecting.


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