Spring Planting

The last two weeks have been a blur, what with field clearing, veg bed construction, installing seedlings I started growing in February, and planting seed. I’m pleasantly exhausted and excited to watch things grow.

Clearing the field is labor intensive – the space has grown over with trees, grasses, flowers, and shrubs. Trees stumps must be dug out, otherwise they’ll keep sending up new shoots as they try to survive. The field is also filled with stones and bricks – handy for outlining beds but an inconvenient block to my spade. I love doing the work by hand, and by setting reasonable goals  – clear only so much as I can fully work that day – I’ve gotten the majority of spring veg into the ground.

The trampoline frame and salvaged fencing made wonderful tomato arches. I prefer this method to cages as it allows greater air circulation and collecting fruit is much easier. I’m growing varieties that get to well over a pound and I don’t want to lose fruit that won’t fit through the cage fencing.

The teepees are filling up quickly with peas, green beans, and cucumbers. I only have one vining bean, so I used two teepees to hold a medium tomato variety. These simple structures are wonderful – the space between the legs has been filled with peppers, and I may add corn to the centers. Planting vertically allows me to maximize use of the ground I’ve cleared – a great time (and back!) saver. I’ll keep adding teepees as I clear the field.

I set up smaller beds of new-to-me-growing plants like radishes and beets. Some are doing better than others – the space I chose is pretty shady now that the trees have leafed – but there’s enough for me to eat and that’s all that really matters for those. The radish greens are a subtle flavor and the beets are pretty much a bust, but the lettuce and mustard greens are doing alright.

There are plants all over the land, but the chicken bed spaces are my favorite so far. The marigolds make a lovely edge, the herbs are thriving, and the sunflower are growing quickly. Large planters hold cucumbers, basil, and tomatoes – all chicken friendly items so I can treat them without hauling stuff in from the field. The plants will attract insects for them to eat, provide shade, and even help control odors.

The plan this week is to finish planting all my started plants (tomatoes, melons, peppers), then get seeds for okra and corn into the ground. My tan will deepen and my muscles strengthen – the work is worth the reward of fresh produce grown without manufactured additives!

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