I have a to do list for getting ready to garden and I have managed to make a little progress on it the past few days. Now the weather guys are predicting that starting tonight there will be several upcoming nights that it `will drop into the 20s overnight. Today was cold, cloudy and windy so it wasn't much fun to work outside but I did ,manage to get a few things done.
Last year I gardened up until the start of winter, in fact, I was digging the last of the potatoes in snow flurries. I had been planting oats for a cover crop and setting up the west end where the squashes and pumpkins were into raised rows and the cornstalks were still in the garden. Some of those things are on my list to finish this spring.
Early spring to do list for the cornfield
set three more marker poles
finish the rest of the raised rows at the west end, rows 36 thru 45
set up the raised rows for the raspberry and asparagus plants
set up the nine raised rows going north of the marker poles
set up the pea trellises
set up the cucumber trellis
set up trellises for squash and gourds
plant early crops:
broccoli plants from the greenhouse
This week I set up the pea trellises, a taller one for the sugar snap peas and a shorter one for the snow peas and got the peas planted.
I planted one row of potatoes and began laying out where the rest of the potatoes will go. The potatoes that I planted were small ones that I planted whole. There are more potatoes that are cut into sections that will be planted in a couple days once the cuts are allowed to dry out.
This year the potatoes will go in the north half of the cornfield. Last year the north half held two varieties of sweetcorn, one at each end, with melons in between. This year I am planting the corn in the center with other crops including the potatoes where the corn was last year. Getting ready to plant potatoes includes clearing away the dead plant material from last year. I have started digging up the cornstalks and cutting off the root ball and adding that to the compost pile. I have been tossing the stalks over the fence for the herd. I am not sure if they are eating them because they are bored with the hay that they ate all winter but they come trotting over when I have some for them.
So far I have hauled away three or four wheelbarrow's full of dead weeds and old vines. I have started digging trenches. The trenches will get a layer of straw, a layer of compost and then be filled back in with dirt. The rows that will get asparagus will not be filled in completely as they will be filled in over the course of the summer a little at a time as the asparagus grows.
I have started to clear the old plant material and the weeds between the boxes. I have two long boxes to rebuild. The one that went together last fall is empty and needs to be filled. the other boxes are filled with dirt and compost. I think that this year I will add a layer of straw to retain moisture and then fill it with compost and soil from the greenhouse planters. This is similar to the process used to create the raised rows. All of the boxes will get a new layer of compost before seeding and some may get a seeding of oats for a spring green manure crop if it can get planted early enough.
The berry box
I have decided to move the blueberry plants to the kids' old sandbox. Last year I divided it in two parts and built a small, about two foot square, deck in the center. It is impossible to work in the center of the box without climbing in it. So the deck will hold a decorative piece, probably the sundial, and the larger portion will get the six blueberry plants that are struggling where they are currently planted no matter what I do to acidify the surrounding soil. I am hoping that the sandbox will act as a container and allow better control of the growing conditions. I did a little research online and found a video where they were making a planter mix for blueberries in containers and they used a mix that was 1/3 bark nuggets, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 azalea potting soil. Yesterday we were finally able to find all of the ingredients in the stores and haul them all home. Today I emptied the packages in the space and mixed it all up. I think that I am going to need more of each ingredient as the box is not quite full. I had purchased two large bags of each ingredient and I think that one more bag of each should fill it up. I would like to get the blueberries moved while they are still dormant.
The smaller section of the berry box I have been saving for cranberry bushes. The research that I have done suggests that they do well in a mixture that is half sand and half peat. Much of the sand was stolen from the sandbox to level the pavers under the grape arbor but what is left I have been putting on that side.
The hoop house
This year's new construction piece is a small hoop house. It is designed to have two rectangular growing beds with a wood walkway between them. So far I have built the boxes and started the walkway. My dad has cut the rods that will go on the north and south sides to hold the 'hoops' and they are ready to be pounded into the ground. I have placed cardboard under the boxes and one of the boxes has been filed with a layer of straw, compost and old planter soil. I hope to have the other planter filled tomorrow and then the plastic can be cut to length and slid over the rods. The final step will be to cover it with plastic and then the tomatoes can be move in there, some to be planted in the dirt and some already in containers that will sit on the walkway. It will give us an opportunity to see if we can get a jump on the tomato season. Our tomatoes that we started in January will be the ones that go in there this year. They are trying to flower so I would like to get them in there.
Switching over from winter greens to summer transplants. Besides the January tomatoes there are new seedlings started. The first group of new tomato seedlings have been potted up into bigger containers. The second group has sprouted and will soon go into bigger cups and another group is due to be seeded soon. A group of lettuce seedlings have been potted up with another tray needing to be done.
We ordered a few new perennial fruit bushes and nut trees and once they arrive it will be deciding where to put them and getting them planted.