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Monday, May 5, 2014

Spring HAS Sprung! Showers and Budding Trees Galore!

Yes, indeed, spring has finally come to the Northlands. With the rolling in of the Beltane tide, it seems like all of a sudden the willows have gone from intensifying yellow green to green, with baby leaves visible even when passing them at country road in a car speeds. And the big lilac, the maple tree and even the struggling baby fruit trees have swelling buds, despite some serious rodent damage over the winter.
Cherry tree Liberty apple Minister apple
We have been dodging showers, and being thankful for high, well drained soil, so that in between the rains, planting can begin.

This year will be different (... but then, isn't each year!  LOL) because the tractor's tiller is currently out of commission and likely to be for some time. It is currently in parts and the parts are soaking in degreaser in the garage... what parts there are, that is. It would seem that the poor thing was not in good shape when we got it, and it gave no indication of trouble until is stopped dead last fall. Garage it too cold for winter working, especially for a diabetic who cannot tell when he is cold, so it didn't get started being worked on until, really, way too late. And then, did not want to come apart. What Tractor Guy found when he got inside is really depressing: many parts damaged and some -- according to the diagrams in the manual he found online -- totally gone. Repair and replacement of parts will be an expense that I have no idea how we will cover at present.

But the garden needs planting, so I am asking the Gods that what needs to be happen in proper time to keep the runner grass at bay, and forging ahead.

I have two trailer loads of cardboard with which to mulch and have started working on the perennial bed with them. The runner grasses have been removed from the existing asparagus rows and with luck the final half of the new crowns will be planted today. I am only putting cardboard between the rows at present, as I don't want to accidentally block the emergence of any shoots. After the shoots are up, picking is done and the fronds are allowed to grow to feed the roots for winter, I will revisit the beds, do another hand weeding and cardboard in the rows. With any luck there will be mulch hay to add over the cardboard, if nothing else than to make it look more "garden-y".

There are a few more berry bushes to plant, 25 more strawberries and assorted trees (a few fruit, and many windbreak... the latter of which are, thankfully, babies, and will not need big holes dug.) I will work on the berry bushes next (need to cardboard and protect from deer) and then hop back and forth between perennial planting and the annuals.

Emerging garlic!
The annual garden will be a challenge if the tiller is not brought back on line, for sure. But for now, I will be planting directly into the soil as is... it was tilled last year and at present looks good. Where I need to incorporate manure, I'll use the "banty rooster," my baby tiller which really can work up a storm, along the row once the poo is spread. I am thinking of opening up and stapling the paper feed sacks together to make laying out the onion/leek row more efficient. they need something to help with the weeds, and if I can make a continuous strip out of the bags, I think I can accordion fold them and use one of my box cutters to cut x's in a pattern through which I can plant their alternating double row. With the dibble, the baby onions and leeks should go in quickly... then I can get on to spinach seed (needs manure) and lettuce seedlings and the other assorted early crops.

Over-wintered lettuce, still tiny
but growing!
Over-wintered red lettuces are
a bit farther along
I am crossing my fingers that the winter mix lettuces that seem to have over-wintered under a squished row cover and are showing small, bright green and red leaves at present, will continue to grow for a bit before bolting, and at least furnish extra early salad fodder for us.

Ducky Protection hex sign. Available at www.DutchHexSign.com

Our chicken flock will probably also increase this week; I have a short dozen eggs, from my flock and a friend's, being hatched by another friend who has said the eggs have begun pipping! These babies (random brown egg layers) will live in a tote in the house for a time. It is gonna get crowded, for sure, as the Red Ranger meat babies are not yet feathered out enough to go outside... and the chicken tractor that would normally hold them is, at present, bachelor quarters for our newly acquired second rooster. The new ducks, and this roo were acquired in trade for a hex sign, right.
The ducks fit right into the flock but Newton did not want to share.