When I first moved to the farm and was able to have a garden, I spent hours looking through different seed catalogs. I loved reading about different varieties, looking at the pictures, and dreaming of an organized garden and pounds and pounds of harvest.
The first year I was able to get a garden going was 2012. I remember it being a decent year, but I didn’t win the war of the weeds. In 2013 it was the war of the weeds plus the war against chickens just liking to scratch things. In 2014, I lost the war of my dog trying to be helpful by digging up all the tomatoes and peppers I spent weeks starting. In 2015, I didn’t even try. In 2016, I built a fence and won the war against the dog and chickens interfering, but I also spent the entire month of June on a business trip and thusly lost the war of the weeds. In 2017 I lost the war of the weeds again.
Every year, I go in with a different plan. I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that. I’ll even do well for awhile. In 2017, I thought I had cracked the code. Then, in one day, I went outside and was beat. My neighbor was gardening for the first time and she met me at the fence to confirm that yes, the weeds had grown two feet overnight and how did that happen?
In 2018, the plan has changed. I’m not tilling anymore, because research tells me that is churning up weed seeds and making my life harder. I’m moving to raised beds to host the majority of the 2018 crops and trying to utilize no till beds for the melon beds. I bought a walk behind string trimmer to help keep the paths mowed. Being able to focus on individual beds will help me feel like I’m able to win the battle, instead of looking at 2000 square feet of dandelions, purslane, morning glories, and grass.
I’m sure I will lose the war of something in 2018, but hopefully it will not be weeds.
I ordered way more seeds than I intended this year, but I did more research on beneficial plants for the orchard and then I still got carried away.
The seeds should arrive this week. I generally don’t like surprises, but I always look forward to the free seed packet in my orders. I feel like I have an over abundance of cabbage seeds because of it, but I don’t care. I like cabbage, even if I have never successfully grown it. Maybe this will be the year?
I have made the tough decision to not include potatoes and sweet potatoes in the garden for 2018. Potatoes are my favorite food – an answer which almost always confuses people – but I just don’t think I will have the space for it this year.
Adding in the grapes, blackberries, and blueberries is going to take up a lot of space in the garden. Some more space will go to compost bins, and while I have vague plans to expand the garden to the east, I’m not sure that will happen this year.
Editing myself will be the biggest challenge this year. I need to stay focused on the main goal: building soil health and establishing the orchard.
It was warm enough to walk with the dogs down to the pond today. The pond was cracked and from certain angles I could see the ice was several inches thick.
I wanted to stay and marvel longer, but the rain that had been easy to ignore was making its presence known, so we jogged back to the house in a line – Fritz first, Watson second, and me bringing up the rear. When Watson was small he was always in the rear, just trying to figure things out but in absolutely no rush.
The weather is supposed to correct itself to the average this week. The weather was never something I paid much attention to before moving to the farm. I noticed, but I could never have told anyone the average temperature or last frost date. The only thing I knew for certain was that we would always get one last cold snap and snowfall in April, then it would be nice.
We always had snow days in April, which is why I remembered. All the cold months and we had to trudge in to school, but winter would always give its last gasp in April.
I revel in the small things now. The slope of the land. Cracks in ice. The leaves changing color. The beauty of fruit trees. I am so, so glad to live this rural life that I never would have considered at 15.
This is one of the last days below freezing in the foreseeable forecast. I hope I am able to take advantage of the weather and be more productive outdoors.
In other news, I have finally figured out how to lay out the orchard. This also means that I will not be purchasing another apple tree this year. I did spend a bit more coin than I intended on seeds, but I am trying to establish a healthy orchard and avoid spraying the trees.
The fig, persimmon, and plum tree will be placed along one fence as a windbreak and to try to offer some privacy. The remainder will be placed west of the garden, close-ish to the chicken coop. Hopefully the chickens will eat bugs and help prevent pests.
I need to get a serious plan together for the garden. Because I’m adding so much (blueberries, blackberries, grapes) and transitioning to a combo raised bed/no till situation, I’m worried for the first time ever that I won’t have enough room for all I want to grow.
I know the obvious answer is to grow slowly – edit for this year, get a routine, and then decide on expansion. And that’s likely what I will do, but it’s hard to decide between sweet potatoes and watermelon. Especially when I have so much room to expand.
Sitting down and being serious will at least give me an idea, so that will be my goal for the weekend.
I was able to talk myself in to buying one more apple tree. The current orchard is 15 trees, but I have been a little worried about spacing for awhile now. Having one more tree will allow me to have 16 trees, so I can do four rows of four instead of three rows of five.
Though – I may have just come up with a problem. So I don’t now.
To be determined.