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Sort of Dry for May 1st

May 1, 2014

I know it’s safe to till if I don’t feel guilty walking in the garden.

Main garden - ready to plant...

Main garden – ready to plant…

So under Jane’s watchful eye I did some soil amending and maybe the final tillage here until fall.

Now I can do some outside planting.

Phenology notes – late March – April
first cabbage moth – April 30
Oregon Swallowtail – April 29
No barn swallows to be seen – only violet greens (March 27th).Β  😦 πŸ™‚
Oldest tads hatched – March 31

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    May 1, 2014 2:20 pm

    Tads? Tadpoles? πŸ™‚

  2. Nick permalink
    May 1, 2014 3:03 pm

    Why feel guilt at all? My wife and I are going to permaculture and planting perennials. Are you worried about the excessive tillage you do and the effects on your land? I’m assuming you’re using heavy equipment from the looks of the photos.

    • May 1, 2014 9:41 pm

      Nick, I guess I don’t really feel guilty, we till less than 1% of our land, the rest is perennial grass or timber. I guess if you study permaculture you will see that old farmsteads like ours used what is now called permaculture…gravity water, orchards, gardens, livestock housing etc., close to the farmstead house to keep from wasting energy. I guess the way we look at it as far as consumption is that what we consume is right in our face, no shipping of foodstuffs for the most part. I am curious always when someone says they are doing permaculture and planting perennials, how much of their diet are they getting from that? And how much are they still buying at the store that is brought in from somewhere else?

      Yes, I do use a tractor…

  3. May 1, 2014 5:00 pm

    How do you know when the soil is dry enough to work with?

    • May 1, 2014 5:07 pm

      Kerry, squeeze a handful of your dirt and if it forms a ball it’s too wet, if the ball falls apart it’s okay to work the soil.

  4. May 2, 2014 1:33 am

    I’m curious about how deep you till and with what. Are you actually ploughing full depth or is it more akin to chain harrowing? I ask because I’m always in a battle with myself about ‘dig’ v ‘no dig’. I tend towards ‘no dig’ but then there’s that patch of couch grass roots that have to come out… And about a spit and a bit down the soil is heavy clay which for some crops needs opening… And I always use my version of a ‘broadfork’ to aerate… So I end up moving quite a bit of soil one way and another. However, I like better the idea of adding amendments and letting the worms and soil life do the work for me. (And of course you are doing the same.) None-the-less, I’m keen to understand how much/deep you disturb your soil before you amend it (or after)?

    • May 2, 2014 5:15 am

      Carrie, I’m going about 8″ so deeper than a chain harrow. So subsoiling once in a while to break up any plow pan, and then tilling the rest of the time. Usually once or twice a year depending on cover crops etc. I find that where I find the couch grass is where I have a bit of hard pan, and here in the gardens it’s right on the keyline. I added lime before tilling and I had added rough compost last fall that was broken down. Periodically I will side dress with compost on top the soil during the growing season depending on the crop. Sometimes I rake it in sometimes it just lies on top and works in a slow release manner. After this initial tilling it will be hand work from now on.

      • May 2, 2014 9:56 am


      • May 5, 2014 12:37 am

        Can I just query the comment about lime? Are you adding lime every year to the entire veg patch or is it selective application to mesh with your rotation plan? In what sort of concentrations, and (perhaps silly) why? Questions, questions, questions! πŸ™‚

        • May 5, 2014 8:10 pm

          Carrie, I pretty much apply it every year except for the potato ground. We receive a wicked high amount of rainfall each year, about 100″ is normal so our soil is naturally acidic. Veggies like a little more neutral soil. I use it lightly, maybe 25# per 1000 square feet. A soil test can be done to determine how much if any lime you may need for vegetables.

        • May 6, 2014 12:04 am

          Cheers. I usually lightly lime the next brassica bed but I’m contemplating investing in a testing kit to check the whole plot; mainly a concern about how much leaching has taken place over two wet winters (although nowhere near as wet as yours – about one third your standard). However we had enough both years to cause periods of standing water over the lower end of the allotment. In itself that probably makes a good case for an investment in a decent testing kit. Bit late in thinking about it for this year… Life!

  5. CassieOz permalink
    May 2, 2014 4:22 am

    That main garden patch is BEAUTIFUL. Im envious as we’re in late autumn here and the first real frost is forecast for Sunday night. DH is going to put the tractor over my ‘critter fodder’ patch in September for me (before last frosts) but we have to put up a rabbit proof fence when he’s finished so I don’t think we’ll ever get the tractor in again. I may have to hire a tiller in future years. I love looking at your row crops, I have row crop envy!

    • May 2, 2014 5:09 am

      Cassie, thank you! It’s finally warming up here πŸ™‚ Although the rain is coming back tonight, but just in time to water in some seeds. Now to get out there and getting Jane’s carrots and snips in! Lee Reich calls his garden a farmden, too small to be a farm and too big to be called a garden πŸ™‚

      • CassieOz permalink
        May 2, 2014 3:18 pm

        “Farmden”, that’s a great term and I think I’ll pinch it. Thanks again for sharing your experience and for all the lovely pictures of your work. And Jane of course, lol.

  6. May 2, 2014 7:36 am

    The swallows came back to Chesterfield about a month ago. Fortunately, you didn’t promise to come visit by then.

    • May 2, 2014 7:54 am

      Normally we have both Violet-green that nest in the farm buildings and the Barn Swallow with the mud cup nests. But they have been dwindling in numbers every year. Look at this post, we only have 8 swallows right now. There are so few now compared to that. Our Violets came back in late March.

      • May 2, 2014 10:37 am

        Just barn swallows here. Nothing worse than finding a pile of feathers in the barn…darned cats.

        That post has some great pictures (I was surprised to see corn…). We don’t see swallows in those numbers but there are evenings in July when the swallows are still out when the bats come out to fly and the sky is a busy place.

        • May 2, 2014 12:37 pm

          Our cats have started the disappearing act – new litter of 4 found, one yearling and old tom gone 😦 You’ll see corn again this year if the camera holds out. Corn was in that same spot last year, and I just got done putting the spuds in those rows today. Lunchtime now.

          We call the bats night swallows, or the graveyard shift. Maybe our swallows moved to the midwest πŸ˜‰

        • May 2, 2014 12:43 pm

          Ugh. We have a favorite female cat that turned up pregnant. Hope she’s a bad mom.

        • May 2, 2014 1:50 pm

          You need some bobcats! Or cougars, they love house cats.

  7. May 2, 2014 1:33 pm

    Beautiful photo of Jane.

  8. May 4, 2014 10:43 am

    I have grass envy. We had the first real rain of our spring for over two weeks. We were busy this morning getting seeds in, just in time too.

    • May 4, 2014 9:38 pm

      And to cap it all, we had snow this morning. Thankfully disappearing fast

  9. May 4, 2014 10:26 pm

    Can’t but say about the photos, it’s wonderful. I love the last one of Jane’s photo. Thanks!

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