Spring is coming! We received a new WWOOFer week before last, Rachel. She will be spending the whole year with us, so we are very excited!
We are putting the garden in a new location this year. The soil is better, and we can see it from the house. If you attended our wedding and sat on the right side, you sat where the garden is now. To prepare for the new site, we went through a few months of rotating chickens and composting on site with spent brewers grain, leaves, and old hay. This really added a lot of fertility to the site. The area where the chickens had been was so green and lush vs where they had not been.
An unusual dry spell got me hoping the ground was dry enough for me to plow, disc, and till. Here is the ground broken and waiting to be worked into a fine soil.
Here is a shot from the top of the hill. Notice the pallets at the forefront. That will be an awesome fence later. We used the subsoiler to dig a trench for water and power lines. We are going to use the garden as the center hub on our spoke system for rotational grazing, so we will put water and power every 100 feet around the garden perimeter.
Here are the WWOOFers helping guide me as we lay down the plastic mulch we use.The mulch allows us to reduce water use by upwards of 70%! This is because the drip tape is underneath the mulch. It also prevents weeds from coming up. It looks like a lot but it is actually fairly thin. The whole field worth of plastic would fit into a small trashbag when all pulled up cleanly.
We left a few spots without plastic. We are experimenting with using different types of mulch this year. We are taking soil samples at the beginning of the year and noting what soil life (nematodes, bacteria, fungi, etc.) we have at the beginning of the year, in the height of the growing season, and at the end of the year. We want to know what mulching system creates the best soil life.
Finally the WWOOFers spread a few tons of wheat straw between the rows. We learned the hard way last year that trying to use a living mulch between the plastic mulch is a recipe for heartache. This is pleasant to walk on and will create more organic matter for next season. Great work, guys!
But what all to put in there? Well Allison and Rachel have really been busy the last few weeks. They have started over 4,000 new baby plants!!! So far we have many heirloom and traditional varieties of Broccoli, Cauliflower, Arugula, Celosia, Butterfly Weed, Zinnias, Nasturtium, Cumin, Chives, Echinacea, Basil, Cabbage, Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes.