Monday, June 16, 2008

Progress! Potatoes, corn and beds...

Plums - one type. Apparently, these are kind of tart. The other type (pictured a few days ago) supposedly make good eating (according to our neighbor). Both make for beautiful trees!

Man, what a weekend! 5 big trips to Home Depot later, I think we are on our way. We bought a wide deck self-propelled mower, a new drill, a table saw, tons of paint, wood for the garden beds and the chicken coop, peat moss, some compost (since ours won't be ready for a month or more), painting tools, new locks for the name it. We also ended up renting a small tiller for a few hours to re-till the bed that the previous owners did a little over a month ago. What a job!

H mowed the lawn (I did about 5% of it) while I prepped some meals for the month. We also moved about 4-6 car loads of stuff but we barely made a dent on what's in storage. We did empty our spare room closet in the apartment, so we will use that space to clear out the items in the garage we will need for moving (the boxes and paper). We'll each keep one bike in the spare room and all the rest of the stuff will need to go to the house. Then the garage will be empty (something we need to have done by the end of June so that we can reduce our July rent).

On Sunday we bought a bunch of plant starts at the farmers market. We bought about 6 varieties of tomatoes, 5 of peppers, an eggplant, a cuke and a few herbs. Then we used the tiller to churn up about half the original garden plot. After it was tilled, I picked up/dug out the remaining weeds on the first two rows and planted potatoes, corn and asparagus (an experiment). We covered the remaining tilled area with a big sheet of black plastic to kill those weeds. I want to stagger the corn rows so that we don't get it all in one harvest, so I'll plant more next weekend. We also want to plant some sunflowers and a few sweet potatoes. I think we may experiment with putting a few rows of beans between the rows of corn (starting next weekend) as well.

We also began building the beds for the remainder of the veggie gardens. We are using the square foot gardening method (see the book in the sidebar). Since a lot of what we want to grow needs trellising, I've set up the beds in a variety of sizes to maximize trellis space. We could not find vermiculite anywhere locally, so we ordered it online. We are hoping it arrives this week so that we can get the soil mixed and get those plants in the ground soon! We do have a perfect place for them though...the yard is really set up well for our needs. They'll be in a wide open (sunny) space to the left of our tilled plot but behind the orchard. This area is also not visible by the road, so it's quiet and private.

Once the boxes are done and planted, we'll get started on the chicken coop. That should be interesting. The plans we have look to be a little vague - but we'll see how it goes. I'm looking forward to it, though! It's actually going to be a chicken 'tractor' in that it will be a coop and a run combined, with no floor. We will be installing handles on the base, so we can move it every once in awhile to keep the chickens in fresh grass and keep our lawn and fields nicely fertilized. If it ends up being too heavy, we will install wheels on the coop end. We did not buy the items for the perch and the nesting boxes, but I wanted to see if we could build those with scraps first. We also still need the wire to cover it, but HD was out of the type we wanted, so we are going to look elsewhere.

Lastly, we've got massive weeding to do. The previous owners were getting on in years, and while they kept the obvious weeds at bay, most of the back was severely over-grown. They said that they just couldn't keep up with the work around the place anymore, and now we can see what they mean! Yesterday I discovered that they were basically spraying weed killer in certain spots (along the fence, around the decorative beds, etc) to keep it under control. Anyplace where they could not spray, the weeds are crazy (like IN the plants and bushes). We are making sure that we pull the long grasses and are going to keep them in some semblance of order. I'd like to dry them and use them as 'hay' either in the chicken coop or to feed the goats (once we get them). We also need to get our compost bin set up. We've got a huge grass clipping pile, but I want a nice bin so that our kitchen scraps can go in it and we can start getting some compost made. Of course, we'll have a huge pile of weeds to go in it, as well. My hope is that if we keep turning it, we'll have compost to work with in time for the fall planting.

My goodness, country living is exhausting! :-p

From our plans:
buy all the supplies for the garden boxes and build them - mostly done!
buy all the supplies for the chicken coop - done!
buy a lawn mower - done!
buy replacement deadbolts and install - bought, will install soon
buy interior paint and supplies - done!
buy tomato and pepper plants - done!
start painting interior - waiting for a rainy day
plant potatoes, corn and asparagus - done!
paint the deck (maybe) - held off
long bike ride - no time
move as much stuff out of storage as we can - done!

I feel good about what we accomplished this weekend.

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