The title is referring more to some lyrics in one of my favorite Clutch songs than to my favorite section of Hades, but regardless I am in Full Farm mode. Also, it is high time I put some meat back into the posts and stop navel gazing and essay writing. There’s work being done and I need to write about it! Finally, I find it fitting that this post celebrates the day when One Straw broke 100,000 page views. Thanks everyone!
Last weekend I broke ground at the Market Garden and took some “before” pics. It was great to get out into the soil again! As I begin chronicling 2009’s leap into a more focused effort into gardening for profit, I though it may be best to take a monthly shot of the gardens. Here is April Wk 2 first shot is taken facing South West, and works around counter clockwise from there:
The plot is roughly 90′ x 70′ of growing space including the 300 sq ft hoop house. The soil is a sandy loam, rich in organic matter and had been rotationally grazed horse pasture for the past several years. The only thing holding it back from being paradise is that it is 8 miles from my house.
Weed pressure is typical – some perennial quack, sow thistle and a very aggressive rhizomatous sedge. Last year the weeds won, but I hit them hard with cover crops in the fall to set them back, and know better what I am in for this year. My biggest failure last year is that I tried to farm like I garden – tight spacing and bed planting. This maximizes yields per sq ft, but I can’t hand weed 7000 sq ft! This year I am planting in rows spaced wide enough for a wheel hoe to go in between.
To that end, last weekend I dusted off the Grillo, threw the tiller on it and very lightly tilled in 2 beds for spinach. The tiller can be set to till as lightly as 1″, and I did 2 quick passes at that depth to prepare the seedbed without disturbing the soil layering.
The Grillo kicks up a beautiful seedbed in no time. I then went back and scuffle hoed the path and a foot on each side of the beds to take down the early weeds. Next the Earthway was loaded with spinach seeds (Space) and 2 rows were run down each 30″ bed. Finally I put up some portable electric fence as a chicken deterrent until I can get my permanent fence built this weekend.
Last year I designed a .1 acre sustainable market garden that I would like to dust off and begin to implent. With the housing market in the tank, we won’t be moving any time soon, so I am sinking roots, literally, on this plot. This year will be spent primarily in eradicating the perennial weeds, but I am definitely moving towards permanent 3′ beds running north south. At the least the fence line will be planted to flowering perennials and I intended to bi-sect the plot with a west/east bed of perennial herbs and medicinals to provide a reserve of beneficial and a truly undisturbed soil ecosystem. Sage and Rosemary transplants are started!
If the weather holds this weekend I intend to start sinking fence posts for a 40″ welded wire fence to keep out the landowner’s 100 free range chickens and 30 geese. The 8 peacocks will laugh merrily at that fence (they roost on top of telephone poles…) but its better than nothing. The fence will run about $400, but I am confident that we will be on this land for 5 years. Given that we will earn about $1500 net a year off this plot, its worth it. We could triple that if I spent more than 5-10 hours a week on site, but it is what it is. We will also have 2 other plots on this property each about 2500 sq ft- one in potatoes and the second in a Sudan Grass cover for mulch and to begin breaking weed cycles. Plus I really want to mow Sudan Grass with my scythe!
This year could be a banner year for organic farming -either the bottom will continue to drop out and we will all suddenly be very interested in sustainable food, or the Green Movement will continue to gain momentum and we will all suddenly be very interested in sustainable food. Likely it will be a bit of both. Regardless, I’ll be out in the fields working on my farmer’s tan.