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Monday, July 14, 2014

Real Life Gardening 002

I said I would publish updates, and so I shall.

Despite a comment that I received on Facebook, I did not just "plant it and walk away" but have been weeding in the rows by hand and between the rows have been worked with the tractor where possible. A spring tooth harrow does NOT remove every weed but does keep them down to what I consider a reasonable level and when I am in the row, I hand pull the big ones. Why don't I hoe, as the FB poster suggested? I suspect he has NO concept of the size of my garden. Would YOU attempt to hoe 1/3 of an American football field? I didn't think so...

At the end of last week I had time and a bit of weather that was not wet nor intolerably hot (over 80 degrees especially with direct sunshine, and I have to pack it in until later in the day) and I began knocking down weeds around the lettuces in preparation for a workshop behind held here.

Weeds knock down prior
to cultivation.
Because the weeds were tall and my tiller is tiny, I attacked between the rows with a string trimmer, until it bound up and then with my scythe. Scythe actually worked much better but unfortunately it can only be worked right handed; the string trimmer, while heavier and more awkward, I can use with either hand holding and the other one operating it which somewhat helps endurance.

Fowl enjoying the weeds.
The fowl enjoyed the green matter, which I pulled out of the garden so it wouldn't get tangled in the tiller.  There was a complete cart load of my medium size garden cart for them to work on.

Banty rooster tiller, left, and the work it has done, foreground.
Untilled rows at the top of pic.
The next morning I started working with the "banty rooster" tiller. As you can see, a pass up and back made short work of the weed stubs and grass... for now. These rows are too close together for the tractor to work them but wide enough apart to be two tiller-widths. The ground where the first crop lettuces are planted and where the onion are -- to the right -- was not worked up mechanically at all prior to planting, nor had it been until just this week. When I started planting, the rotary tiller for the tractor had been declared non-operational but not yet beyond hope, which is about where it is now. Anyway, I started planting what I could because it was necessary and since then we decided to use the harrow exclusively this year.

As you can see in this photo, taken by Yolanda at the workshop, the weeds that you can see as specks of green in the previous picture have pretty much bit the dust. The only drawback to having done this was that participants in the "More than the Tip of the Iceberg" workshop had to knock the dust off the leaves prior to our wandering taste session in the garden. Fortunately, most were gardeners and all were understanding that "a little bit of dirt won't hurt."

The workshop was sponsored by our newly formed chapter of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association was formed in 1971 and is the oldest and largest state organic organization in the country.

On other notes, it appears that we have a broody hen. We have had a roo on the loose for some months. Having two, who don't get along, they take turns being with the girls and having the run of the farm. Newton, the current bachelor roo, apparently has a hen who is sweet on him, so much so that she kept figuring out ways to "flee the coop" so to speak, regardless of my
Where she appeared to go to ground.
having clipped her wings and block up every hole I could spot. Since they stay out of the garden, I figured we might as well let her keep Newton company, which she did for some weeks.

Then, one day, there was Newton at morning chores but no sign of the hen we had taken to calling "the hussy." We figured she had been outwitted by a fox as we have seen them around. But apparently that was not the case, for she appeared for breakfast with her beau the next day. We continued to see her sporadically, and I began to think she had gone broody and was setting. I determined yesterday to watch her on the next morning that I did chores if it wasn't raining... and today was the day. She was cagey and it seemed to take forever but finally I saw her appear to go to ground. I let her be for a bit, then checked next time I was out and found her in one of the old nests someone (perhaps this very hen) had used when they were all at large. 

I won't disturb her again, but next time we see her off the nest and eating away from this area, I shall go check and count eggs.

On a totally different line of work, I had to make a trip to our little rural post office today to ship off this hex sign. This 24" diameter sign is for Inspiration and is on it way to Tennessee.