NOTE: Ooops! Somehow I managed to only save this as a draft and did not publish it. This was supposed to be posted on April 1 (no joke). Keep that in mind as you read my "today"s and "yesterday"s. - Farmer Katie
Today’s Headline: No snow… (yet)! Today’s forecast for southwest
Michigan was snowy. To be sure, it is cold outside (hovering around 30
degrees as I write this) but the sun is shining brightly. After a
sustained string of sunny days, it’s a little hard for me to stomach the
idea of snow. The good news is that Wednesday should be sunny and
relatively warm (40’s) and then if the Mr. Weatherman is right, there’s
no looking back! Farewell, winter – I’m ready for spring!
Our First Hugelkultur Planting
With spring on our doorstep, I’ve been super busy starting seeds. On
Good Friday I planted about half of our peas. The most exciting thing
about these peas is that they are the very first thing planted in one of
our hugelkultur beds!
To recap, the beds are comprised of pits (about 3’ deep) filled with
rotted logs, branches and fall leaves which have then been topped with
the very earth that was removed to make the pits. (For in-depth info on
why in the world we would bury logs in our garden – and why you should
too – click here.)
On Friday I made a mound about 8-10” high with more topsoil and topped
that with 6 cubic feet of organic garden soil (purchased from Lowes). My
plan was to create the mounded part of the beds with compost but I have
not yet ordered the compost. (Just like last year we’ll get it in bulk from a local supplier.)
Because I knew a cold snap was coming, I covered the bed with a plastic
row cover using our PVC hoops. (I had a fabulous helper!)
This hugel has 3 feet of logs and leave buried beneath it with a 8-10? mound of top soil on top.
Owen is helping me put the hoops in place for our row cover.
What a great little helper!
are in place. A covering of organic garden soil (from Lowes) tops the
bed. This is only 6 cubic feet… I wish I could have added more.
The bed is ready for the row cover.
I covered the bed with plastic held down by logs and large rocks. The let the bed warm for a day before planting the peas.
The row cover will also keep the deer and other critters from digging
up my peas since there we do not yet have a fence around this part of
To date I’ve started onions, leeks, cabbage, cauliflower, kale,
rhubarb, chard, broccoli, stevia, lettuce, peas and tomatoes. Frankly,
this is the part of the season that keeps me on edge. Starting hundreds
of seeds at a time while the weather is still touch and go provides lots
My biggest issue is space. We live in a small house and have a very
small greenhouse. Finding an out of the way place for so many seedlings
that also has the warmth and light they need is difficult. Second of
all, making sure I stick with my planned planting dates is hard for me.
Life gets busy and despite the fact that I vowed not to do this again,
I’ve already had a couple of days where I look at the calendar
at 8:00 PM and think “Oh crap, I’m supposed to plant 200 seeds today!”
Right now I’m way off schedule on planting chives, scallions and a few
days off on lettuce, spinach and chamomile. The biggest issue is that I
haven’t been diligent about making newspaper pots
every day. The good news is I think I can go ahead later this week with
direct seeding my chives and scallions (they are cool hardy) and I’m
thinking of direct-seeding the lettuce and spinach under row covers. The
only reason I was going to start chamomile this early is because it
takes a while to mature and I wanted to give it a jump start. But since
that is not a critical crop for our CSA, I think I will just direct seed
it after the last frost date.
In further keeping-it-real news, my onions are not doing well. I
planted about 450 seeds and I think about 30% of them are thriving. I
think the culprit here is lack of light… they’ve been hanging out in my
laundry room and there are so many that some are not in the best-lit
places. Also my cauliflower and cabbage have not germinated well because
they are in the greenhouse which drops down to about 50* at night
despite my space-heater’s best efforts.
I replanted cauliflower a couple of days ago and will be bringing those
seedlings, along with the cabbage, inside to germinate. The good news
is our kale is doing fabulously as well as our chard. Broccoli
germinated just fine and the tomatoes are coming along. Once the night
temperatures pick up (or I get my hands on a second space heater) we
should have no problems.
Later this week I’m hoping to build shelves for the greenhouse to
make better use of space (and get seedlings out of my dimly lit laundry
The Garden Fence
Now that the direct-seed season has arrived (at least for my
cool-hardy plants) we need a new fence ASAP. For those of you who are
just starting to follow us, you might want to check out this post where I talked about expanding our garden.
We’ve doubled the size of the Main Garden by adding 14 new beds – 10 of
them are hugelkultur beds. The existing fence is still standing around
last year’s garden. Besides needing to be expanded, it also needs to be
improved. The posts are loose in several places and there are gaps
(like, fawn-sized gaps) in the metal fabric in a couple of places.
Oh look – a fawn-sized hole in the fence… lovely…
Last fall I shared with our CSA members that we could use help in
April with building the new fence. Several of them graciously said that
they’d be willing to help when the time arrives. (Thank you!) We haven’t set a date yet but will soon.
The fence will serve several purposes: Protect veggies from critters
(like deer and rabbits), allow sun to reach our crops (by using welded
wire fencing), provide a trellis to the north of the garden and create
an attractive boundary for the garden. The attractive boundary is a
driving force behind our need for some additional help, of the financial
variety. Being good neighbors is important to us and since we’re a
suburban farm, we want to create a fence that is as aesthetically
pleasing (for our neighbors) as it is effective (for our crops). To make
a prettier fence, we need a prettier penny. (And since we’re a start-up
farm committed to operating debt-free, the budget is tight.)
The good news is that we’ve found a way to make a fence that is
relatively low cost while still serving all the purposes listed above.
And we’ll be able to make it modular so if we need to expand or move it
in the future, all of the dollars invested in our project will not go to
waste. All contributions (even $5) will bolster our ability to provide
naturally-grown, locally-sold produce to our community. If you’re
interested in investing in the naturally-grown, buy-local movement,
here’s a great opportunity to make a tangible difference for just a few
dollars! If you’d like to contribute, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (P.S. We’re giving away some pretty cool rewards to contributors. More details coming within a few days on our very first www.kickstarter.com project!)
Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what we’ll be building.
There you have it… a little peak into the world of what we’ve been up
to lately. What have you been up to around your homestead? Have you
started any seeds indoors? Outdoors? Any other gardening activity? I’d
love to hear what you’re up to!
Did you enjoy this article? Visit www.arcadia-farms.net for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally.
Posted by Katie
@ 01:58 PM EDT