Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring is Here!

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Well, Spring is here in the afternoons at least. If you're up as early as I am, and live a few hundred feet above sea level, you know that the past week has brought us snow, sleet, and a heavy frost almost every night. Still, a few afternoons of warm weather and sunshine are quickly warming the soil and today we got most of the heavy ploughing done. We still can't do the main garden in front because it's under water so that will likely not be turned and planted until the end of the month but that fits with the garden plan do it's all working out. We have a half acre that needs to have the discs run over it a few times before planting and we will also rototill it and run the chickens over it in a chicken tractor to get out any bugs and grubs. Natural insecticides...gotta love chickens!

Incase you're wondering, a chicken tractor is a movable house with a run attached that is the same size as a large garden bed. Yes, we make them that way on purpose. We can move some of the hens around from bed to bed cleaning up after one crop and doing some weeding and scratching for us and when they are done we just move them on to the next one. Or onto pasture. They're happy and lay the best eggs! You can use it for meat birds raised on pasture also and make it any size you like. Mother Earth news has an article and some pics of a chicken tractor built for pasture raising birds. It's wood and so would be heavier to move, you'd need a tractor or 4 strong guys, but it'll give you an idea and we'll post pic of ours once finished.

This weekend will see the construction start of a new green house. We are building a poly-tunnel style greenhouse and it will extend the growing season by several weeks. For example, we can sow lettuce right into the ground along with peas, carrots and beans etc. about 3 weeks before we can plant out in the field. This means you get vegetables earlier and also further into the fall. The beds in a greenhouse are rotated just as our regular field crops are. This natural rotation leads to a more balanced level of nutrients in the soil and helps us avoid pest problems. For example, if carrot flies are hatching in last years carrot patch they're going to starve because this year it's all corn and they have nothing to eat. Same with the corn pests, now they're surrounded by cabbages. It also works by putting good things in the soil. For example peas fix nitrogen with little nodules on their roots. They make more nitrogen than they need and leave the extra in the soil for other plants to use.

That's all there is to report today. We just came home from a friends baptism and now are getting the tomatoes moved in from the greenhouse, the kids scrubbed clean and into bed, and things ready for our various church meetings tomorrow.

Have a lovely weekend!


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