Thursday, March 30, 2023

I am as good, once...

I am out of gas.

In my current state of fitness, seven hours of manual labor is about all I can manage.

  • Pulling fence posts
  • Driving fence posts
  • Dragging feedlot panels
  • Cutting brush
  • Dragging brush
  • Burning brush
  • Tilling part of the garden

Action shot of Sprite delivering a bale of hay. We had a low of 15F overnight

I added a hoop over the top of the "trailer simulator". I will stretch a tarp over it tomorrow.

Looking northwest diagonally across the patch where the peppers, potatoes and tomatoes will be planted. Very approximately 65' by 30'. I expect to squeeze in seven rows with 42" between them for a total of about 450 feet of row
I must report, with chagrin, that the fence that separates the south-annex from the pasture is bowed to the disfavor of the garden area. I am rectifying that this year. That is why the tilled area is OUTSIDE of the current location of the fence posts.
Looking from the west. I have some trees that need a haircut if I expect to get much production from the west end of this patch.

Potatoes go in early with a target date of May 1 +/- seven days. That means I need to do a rough-till two weeks before I intend to plant so the roots and surface trash has a chance to break-down. Tomatoes and peppers are traditionally planted Memorial Day weekend. Peppers, tomatoes and potatoes are all in the nightshade family and have similar pests. It simplifies crop-rotation to treat them as a block.

Given my druthers, I will let green stuff (aka, weeds or cover crops) grow as long as possible. I like the idea of the plants capturing sunlight and adding to the organic matter of my "patch" without me having to truck it in. The fact that those plants reduce erosion and capture nutrients that would otherwise leach away is a bonus. That has to be balanced with the amount of time it takes for them to break down.

Larger seeds (like beans and corn) do not require as fine of a seed-bed as smaller seeds (like carrots and lettuce) and consequently I don't need to lead-the-duck as much for corn as I do for lettuce. Another factor is that vegetation breaks down more quickly when the soil is warm. I need to lead-the-duck more when the soil is 40F than when it is 75F.

I need three, honest, dry days before I can rototill. Today was my one window for the next ten days.
Some springs are wetter than others. The canny gardener never really trusts the weather-guessers...but he pays attention to their educated guesses.

Talking very round numbers, the sweetcorn patch looks like it will be 40 feet long by 30 feet wide. That noodles out to 30-to-40 dozen ears. It is currently covered with waste hay that the cows trampled.

I am doing something a little bit different this year. I am running a "fallow patch" that is currently seeded in rye in the fall and I just broadcast in some red-clover seeds today. That patch is the same size as the potato patch or roughly 40% of the south-annex garden.

I will also be planting strawberry plants along the north edge of the annex. That will complicate the spacing of the rows. Tall plants like the corn will shade the strawberries if I crowd them too much, although the shading will be temporary as the corn plants will be cut after the sweetcorn is harvested.

Onions are looking like 70(ish) feet by 10'.

The fenced-in garden is roughly 65'-by-65'. It would be larger but I have asparagus encroaching from the south and hazelnut bushes on the north and an old tree nursery on the east.

Things are starting to come together.


  1. You are lucky! I wish I could work a 7 hour day again. It looks like you have a good plan coming together. --ken

    1. I have to confess that the lovely and industrious Mrs ERJ helped me. She got the brush-pile burning so I could just keep dragging-and-tossing waste-wood on top of it.

      Rust, rot, wear, depreciation and age eventually catch us all.

      I am just a young sprout of 63. Age seems to accelerate with 75-to-80 being the "corner" for many men...those of us lucky enough to live that long.

    2. To me 67 was when age really started to kick in. And then it progressed in spurts. And I found that as I aged I was more prone to hurt myself, not always seriously but bad enough to hinder my working. And when I did hurt myself, a cut, a sprain, a torn tendon, or a broken bone I did it when I was tired and usually after dinner when I went back out to get something done. The best advice I can give is after dinner call it a day and go sit on the porch and have another glass of wine ---ken

  2. Aha! About the fence location vis a vis the garden, now it makes sense.

    (In a previous post, you showed the garden on what I thought the wrong side of the fence.)

    I found peppers and toms don't pair well in the field. N requirements is main reason.

  3. I agree with coyote that you are lucky to be able to put in seven hours at a time. I blew a couple discs when I was 62 and it’s been downhill from there including forced retirement. Currently I have been trying to get back in shape after 90 days of being completely off my feet by doctor order to finally get a stubborn foot wound to heal. I use a stool to work the raised beds in the hoop houses which gives me more time on garden stuff. I’m figuring to transplant tomatoes and peppers into the green house about May 10 because I can heat it with a wood stove if we have a cold snap. Here in my part of Alaska I’m lucky to plant potatoes June 1 between melting the two feet of snow currently on the garden and drying the clay soil. Since June and July have very long days compared to you I can generally harvest fully mature potatoes by September 1. The hoop houses let me plant other stuff in May with no snow to melt.

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  5. Good luck with getting it all done!


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