Well the frogs have emerged in the dugouts and are loud as ever, so despite the snow we got this past weekend, I call Spring!
Since we have approximately one month until planting time, Clay and I are busy with plans and logistics for the gardens. He built me some beautiful beds around the south side of the house/deck and we will be filling the largest one with hugelkultur this weekend. We are getting a load of compost from Uncle Ross sometime (hopefully) soon, and I’ll use that to top dress all of our house beds. The chicken garden is coming alive (even with all of the chicken attempts to thwart it) and my chives, mint and a few garlic survived the winter. I’m anxious to see what else will come up. I will be planting peppers and tomatoes against the house as well as grape vines, roses and peonies against the lattice of the deck, most of which will be a summertime project.
The largest item on our list is the acre garden and we have a lot to do. The plan is to plant the large trees and shrubs of our forest garden, build some swales, plant a traditional row garden with this years veggies, install a few perennial beds and put the rest under cover crops of buckwheat and red clover. In the fall I’d like to build some large scale hugelkultur beds, but we’ll see where we get. Oh yes, and then there is the building of a small greenhouse up by the house… By now you should know we are very optimistic people.
When starting this journey last year, we conducted a soil test. I even had my very own specialist on hand since my husband is an environmental scientist. We also tested for pesticides as our plot used to be commercially farmed and is located next to traditional farmed land. Here are the results:
Since I’ve never done an actual soil test on a garden before I went to the all knowing Google to figure out what these numbers meant and what I needed to do about it.
- Organic Matter: 10.7 – Apparently this is ridiculously good. The sources I found said the 4-6% would have been great soil, so we’re sitting pretty on this one.
- Nitrate: 9 ug/g – Ideally we want this number to be 25-30, but medium lies in the 5-20 range so I guess we’re okay
- Phosphorus: 24 ug/g – We are in the ideal range of 21-28, hooray!
- Potassium: 397 ug/g – The highest ideal amount I could find was 120, so I guess this is good? Not sure…
- Sulfate and Ammonium: I couldn’t find much info on this except that these are secondary nutrients.
- pH: 5.8 – it seems we are a little on the acidic side of the pH scale but most veggies do well in a range from 5.5-7 so I’m not going to worry about it this year.
Our pesticide test came back negative and we are glad for that. Although it was expensive, I really wanted peace of mind when it came to possible issues. We tested for over 40 types of pesticides and we are free and clear… phew! All in all, I think we are looking pretty good and I don’t plan on adding much to the soil besides compost and organic mulch. The cover crops will provide organic matter and extra nitrogen in the un-attended areas and we will address any issues in the fall.
Today I came home to a big box of goodies I ordered from westcoastseeds.com who specialize in organic, non-gmo and heirloom varieties. It included my seeds, potatoes, hops, cover crop (buckwheat) and asparagus crowns. Oh good golly it’s like Christmas in April! (don’t take that too seriously universe, we don’t need anymore snow I assure you). I also placed my fruit tree/bush/nut/grape order with a nursery in Manitoba who specialize in zone 2-3 plants. I’m SO excited to get it all in to my house, but less excited to get it all in the ground on my tightened schedule. Here is a list of things we need to do before we can plant:
- Finish the 2015 aspects of the garden design, continue to work on design to finalize
- Purchase and install 8′ wire elk fence – 3 rolls at 330 feet each
- Install working gates – tractor gate + walk-in gate
- Run piping/hose from well to northwest corner of garden site
- Our plan this year will be to water mostly by hand which isn’t ideal, and as we grow into the full space we’ll need to come up with a better plan. But for the first year, I think we’ll be okay.
- Till the entire acre with borrowed till from our cousins
- Find a bunch of compost and wood chips
- Buy a few bales of old, spent alfalfa for mulch
- Plant, plant, plant
I am hoping to grow enough to make it to the local Farmer’s Market this year on Saturdays as well, so we’ll work it into the schedule. Ah yes, the farm/full-time work schedule. At this rate I’ll either be invincible by the end of the summer or they’ll find my body face down in the garden dirt with an invoice in one hand and a pitchfork in the other. Let’s hope for the first one shall we?
Any advice from those experienced gardener’s out there?