Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tractor Work in Town

 Last season, we decided to expand our "operation" to include a lot more planting area, AND reduce the area that needed to be mowed and trimmed etc.  Luckily, when your husband is a equipment/diesel mechanic, you have access to people who are willing to let you use their small tractors (with a tiller attachment in this case!).

Now, part of the reason that we put raised beds in in the first place was because our lots' soil is incredibly compacted, has a fair amount of rock, and not much top soil (top soil being a loose term, ours is in the "improving" stages, coming up from outright junk in some areas of the lot).

Below are the before and after photos we took in early spring.  May I say now that using something that flings dirt and rocks a bit is kind of scary with so many windows close by.  No windows were broken in the making of these beds however!  One more bit of proof that miracles happen all the time.

(Note:  Those red hoops in the bed?  PEX tubing - salvaged from the dump - {normally used for water lines under houses}, makes great hoops for covering your beds with plastic to extend the season.)
Front bed - we tilled up a 12' long section on the left end of it.

For my "kitchen garden" behind the house.  It grew tomatoes, cabbage and monster sunflowers.

Richard then decided to add fine shavings since the soil is very, very poor and clay-ish.  Not sure it did a ton of favors since it draws nitrogen out, but we'll know better this season.

Tilling the winter dog pen, to grow wheat and eventually food.

View of the wheat patch and (in the foreground) our potato plot.

Potato plot (7 kinds of them - they were amazing!).  Sorry about the dog butt, if I knew how to edit photos I would happily have spared you all!

The small plot right out our back door.  Grew nasturtiums, chiles, calendula, a zucchini plant, and a few sunflowers here.

The finished "kitchen garden."  This soil behind our house is the worst on the place, but it will get better through the years.  It did grow some fantastic Winningstadt cabbage though.

The front strip of our house.  We figure we pay taxes on it, may as well try to use it!  Wheat attempted to grow here last summer, but 5 apple trees will be going in this spring!

We are currently planning on pulling our cold frame and old wood shed down before the planting season gets here.  Not only will it give us more room, but it will clean up the look of our lot as well.  We will be planting directly in hoop-covered beds this year, instead of starting seeds in the cold frame.  Last season, we found that errant seeds leftover in the soil from the previous season sprouted later, matured earlier, and produced equally to those seeds that were nurtured early in the cold frame.  Planting experimentation never ceases.  I'll let you know how it pans out.  In the meantime, I'm collecting efficient space usage ideas like crazy, and considering asking the city to let us have 5 chickens - as in a permit, since everything but dogs and cats seem to be banned in town.  We'll see what gets done before the hurry of the season is upon us!