One of the seemingly unending perks of the partnership with the local hobby farmer is that he has a small (12’x25′) hoop house that is currently sitting unused. 2 weeks ago I proposed the idea of prepping some beds for some winter greens. As the owner was very enthusiastic, and even has the seeds on hand, we are giving it a go. The plot and hoop house have been unused for 2 years, so I have my work cut out for me. Still, the tools on hand are fantastic, and make the task less daunting. Plus a excuse to get dirty in the crisp October air is most welcome!
The owner has a 48″ PTO driven rototiller so we cut 2 beds to the south of the Hoop House. The house is on 4×4 skids so once the beds are prepped we will put the house on some log rollers and drag the it over the prepped ground ala Eliot Coleman. This weekend I discovered a large patch of Russian Comfrey (one of my all time favorite plants) that was overgrown and got permission to cut it down for soil prep. Here is a shot of a 3×25′ bed filled with .5 cu yards of comfrey cuttings (high in minerals and a great soil builder) and lined with a 1′ wood chip path. The soil is so friable that you sink 2″ into the tilled ground without it!
Worms…Come and get it!
On another part of the property there are 3 windrows of 3yr old leaf mold of extreme proportions: 6′ tall, 12′ wide and 75 yards long! This past year, another family grew squash and cherry tomatoes on them (below), next year I will most likely put potatoes on one of them.
The compost is about 200 yards from the hoop house, but 5 trips with Archimedes (my 10 cu ft barrow) and I had enough to cover the comfrey with a 2″ layer to coax the worms to the feast.
Rain was starting and the temps were dipping into the 40’s so it was none to soon when the last load was raked flat. The beds will rest until this weekend when a few friends and I will attempt to move the hoop house over the beds. The owner assures me that 4 guys can lift it, I think we’ll need the tractor. Regardless it will soon reside over the now finished beds.
The beds are gorgeous, and in the 2-3 weeks it will take for us to move the Hoop House, plant and get the seeds to germinate, the comfrey should be mostly worm manure. Next year we will start a month earlier and have transplants on hand to give us a jump. Given how late we are starting, I give us a 50-50 chance of actually getting edible greens this season, but the learnings will be legion.
Now I just have to cull the hoop house of weeds:
Time to order a Scythe!