April 21, 2009
compost and row cover
Gorgeous warm weather enabled me to get in and till over the fall rye in the garden and start spreading the compost. Last fall a neighbour gave me her huge pile of year old horse manure which took 14 truck loads to bring home! After turning twice it shrunk again to a 1/3 its size and its now beautiful, black, complex and sweet smelling.
The soil here is really silty, and I'm happy to provide organic matter in many ways: 3 cover crops (2 times buckwheat and fall rye, my neighbours nice compost, and soon my new compost from the cows bedding, manure,garden scraps, house compost and the remains of the cow's old, now moldy, turnips; I should be able to use this next compost for later plantings.
I planted the drier beds where the rye has dissicated and raked off the live rye clumps in the way of my seeder. I have an earthway seeder with some extra plates. Having 2 small seed plates saves some thinning. I like to beet/chard plates as well as this seed size is quite variable. I like to have one with every other hole duck taped off. I will cover some of the new beds with row cover: salad, salad turnip, and radish (tri-colour) when the wind dies down, but aye, its cold and blustery today. If you have ever tried to lay a 12 foot foot row of remay (row cover) down over 3 beds, in the wind, single-handed, you will know why I shall not attempt it.
Years ago, on my old farm, I was coming home from the market in the delivery truck, I saw our farm and its 15 acre vegetable fields below. There was a nasty wind with the little wild twisters and it had picked up the end of a sheet of remay and swung it up 50 feet into the air and was tugging for more. My partner was racing around in the tractor, its loader full of rocks, while wwoofers struggled to lay the sheet back down over tender, trampled, remay whipped salad.
Better wait for a calm day.
In this wind, I am glad to have the seeds in a little furrow and the soil to be a wee bit course. I have seen the remay rub out the seedlings in fine, silty dry soil.
Remay warms things about a degree or 3 and keeps insects like flea beetle, carrot fly, cabbage maggot fly, etc, off the plant.