A Time to Till
Updated: Apr 24, 2018
Spring is spriiiiiiinging, folks! The time has come for the great spring farmstead effort to begin. For us, this means clearing all the piles of manure that are no longer frozen into rock solid heaps, organically fertilizing the pastures with llama beans and horse manure, harvesting rocks from, leveling and replanting last years pig pasture, cleaning up all the random messes we left last fall, and tilling and prepping the GARDEN!
It’s a lard load of work we’ve had going on for the last weeks and still have ahead of us, but it’s so absolutely amazing to get to be OUTSIDE again and back to the natural state of having dirt under my fingernails 100% of the time.
At the end of the growing season last year, we moved our meat hogs into the garden to finish out the plants and root around and till everything under. They made really great work of this task, and also so helpfully located all the rocks that we didn’t manage to till out last year. Sighhhhh.
Pretty, isn’t it? No, I didn’t think so either.
First things first, we hauled the the piggy shelter and moved it into the goat/llama pasture. This year, we’re raising a pair of short snouted, grazing pigs called KuneKune from Farmstead Hollow, a local breeder of this rare and interesting breed of pig. Since they supposedly don’t root like the longer snouted piggies do, we’re going to try keeping them in with the other two-toed beasties, in an effort to consolidate. I guess we’ll see how it goes!
After that came all the rock moving. We didn’t build the gate wide enough to admit our Cub Cadet, so this involved loading up 5 gallon buckets with as much as we could carry, and then dumping them into the trailer and going back for more. Over and over. And over.
Once that was done, we got to break out our new toy- the Husquvarna rototiller we just threw down for at Lowe’s. Last year we rented a tiller because it was our first year with a big garden, and the hourly rental was all we could afford. They only had a front tine left. This means loooooads of extra physical exertion is required to keep the tiller on track and in the ground. We vowed that we WOULD NOT be renting a tiller again this year.
I’ll be honest, I say we, but Ryan, my #handsomehomesteader did all the tilling this time around, while I ran along behind him, collecting YET MORE ROCKS tilled up by the rototiller.
Below is the AFTER. Doesn’t it look sooooooo much better? We’ll be disassembling and parting out that vertical planter in the back corner and turning it into a Sugar Snap Pea trellis. Turns out vertical gardening just isn’t for me. I handily murdered an entire contingent of lettuce last year with inconsistent watering.
Speaking of the great lettuce massacre of ’16, we’re also making serious improvements to our irrigation this year. Last year, we soaker hose, which seemed like a good idea at the time. The weeds were really big fans. Us- not so much. So this year, we’ll be rolling out drip irrigation on a timer to make sure that watering stays consistent, and black plastic mulch to keep the weeds down.
Between the 3 week late start during an already short growing season, the inconsistent watering and the weeds, our garden was pretty rookie last year, but a year of mistakes is really just a year full of opportunities to learn to do better next time.
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