The field is coming together nicely, a lot has happened in the last month! First we rototilled the entire area with a 7HP tiller we picked up on craigslist to break up grass clods and loosen the soil a bit. The land has been cut for hay for years, which hasn’t done it any favors. We hand-formed all 15 3′-wide raised beds with rakes, hoes, and shovels. This, as it turns out, is as good for building muscle as it is for building blisters.
After a general assessment of the soil and a soil test through the extension office, we decided we’d have to give the soil a little boost. Our PH was a whopping 5.2, so we applied dolomitic limestone and also brought in 15 cubic yards of organic compost from GreenCo Environmental right here in Barnesville. They bring in food waste from several Atlanta food establishments (like the Express bagged salad facility) as well as yard and wood waste and have a serious composting operation going. We took a tour of the place, and T was of course out there digging in the piles and throwing it everywhere (even at the salesman giving us the tour). He got a stern talking-to and then a nice bath when we got home. Other like-minded farms in the area use their compost as well and because it was still a little hot, we gave it as much time to cool down before tilling it in. As I’m learning, hot compost robs much-needed nitrogen from the plants because it’s busy using it up. Ideally, soil amendments would have been made in the fall but we didn’t have that option so we’re moving forward with fingers crossed.
After a giant dump truck dropped off the compost we spread about half of it with buckets (also good for blisters). I finally had the sense to ask Greg Brown at Greenleaf Farms here in Barnesville if we might borrow his wheelbarrow. He kindly obliged, and I was able to spread the rest of the compost in half the time. Thank you!!
I picked up about 120 leek seedlings from my class at Cane Creek Farm so those are now in the ground. We’ve also planted about 80′ of snap peas in (T was a big help with this), an 80′ row of a few varieties of beets and about 60′ row feet of orange and purple carrots. This weekend we transplanted spinach, beets, chard and brassicas (kale, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) from the greenhouse. I’ve been hardening those off for nearly a week. It’s a little early and they’re younger than I’d like them to be, but I need the room and we’ve got some row cover on its way to protect the little cuties until they get better established.
E has been a huge help getting the watering system hooked up. We dug a shallow trench and buried the 3/4″ line that runs from the well pump house to the garden. It’s hooked to T-tape (drip line) with emitters every 8″. We’ve had a little scare with water the last couple days because when the system is on it acts as though the well pump can’t keep up. We’re investigating and will likely segment the water system into smaller sections and keep it on short timers. There’s also a pond at the bottom of the hill so if worse comes to worst then we’ll have to get a submersible pump. If we do run low on water we will just stop showering because the vegetables must be watered!
So my lessons this week:
Lesson 1: own a mechanical implement to make raised beds.
Lesson 2: own a good wheelbarrow. (We did, but we had to sell it before we left Denver because it wouldn’t fit in storage.)
Lesson 3: build the biggest greenhouse you possibly can.
Lesson 4: check your water source before starting a farm.
Lesson 5: potting soil dries out your hands. I have hands that could sand paint off a car.