Monday, December 9, 2013

"the cornfield" before and after

I would like to share a before and after but winter has descended upon Minnesota so some of the after is not going to happen until spring.  This post will have to be a before and during.

I live on 11 acres in rural Minnesota.  When we move here the farmsite where I live was a working farm.  Then for a while it was a rural residence, a small house, a big yard, some outbuildings and a few animals.  I lived here but worked in town.   Now I work from home and the farm is becoming a hobby farm.  Over the past couple years a lot of changes have happened to this little farm and to the farmer, me, who is undergoing her own metamorphosis, but this post is about the new garden affectionately called "the cornfield". 

October 29, 2012

This is a patch of what used to be grass.  We decided to make a garden here and my brother-in-law came over with his tractor and ripper and broke ground for the new garden.  It would sit this way until spring.

I have had a small vegetable garden, a potager with raised beds, up near the house.  The potager did not allow for the growing of crops that take up a lot of room so this new garden would allow me to grow sweetcorn and vine crops like melons and squashes and pumpkin.  And tomatoes.  Lots of tomatoes.

May 29, 2013
In the spring we tilled up the soil and began laying out the garden.  The garden measured 40 feet by 120 feet.  The south half would be laid out in permanent raised rows and the north half would be the cornfield.  Our cool wet spring did not allow for getting in the garden early.  Some of the raised rows were installed in the spring but others would be done when the crop season was over.

To make the raised rows I first dug a trench.  In the bottom of the trench I placed a layer of straw to help conserve moisture.  On top of the straw I placed a layer of compost.  I compost the animal manure and bedding from the barn along with kitchen scraps and garden waste.  Then I replaced the soil from the trench leaving a raised mound to plant in.

The trench

straw in the bottom of the trench

compost on top of the straw

soil on top of the compost

ready to plant, grass clippings mulch both sides of the row

Once the raised rows were created grass clippings, and later fallen leaves, were used as mulch between the rows to make permanent walking spaces.  I was only able to get some of the raised rows made in the spring with the plan being that the whole garden would be planted and then once the crops come out in the fall the remainder of the rows would be built as part of the fall end of the season clean up.

a few photos of the garden in production:




In the fall as the crops came out I planted oats as a cover crop in the rows that were already raised and continued to build more raised rows.

I put in wood posts along the center marking every fifth row. 

I plan to number the rows so that I can keep records of what was grown in each row each year to aid with crop rotation.

As you can see in this picture I ran out of fall weather before I ran out of garden so there will still need to be a few raised rows built in the spring.  The ones that were finished this year will just need the cover crop turned over and a layer of compost added in the spring and they will be ready to plant.

Raised row inspiration came from here.

My first ever post joining Susan at Between Naps On The Porch.

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