Saturday, April 26, 2008
Onions, Beets, Chard, and Greens
The spinach and peas I planted two weeks ago are up. I side-dressed the spinach with compost this morning. The unusual warm, dry spell that allowed peas to go in two weeks ago has continued, making it possible to till the soil and plant onions, beets, chard, and greens today. I don't have good luck with carrots and so I've stopped planting them. In a couple of days I will cut any large potato seeds and leave them out in a dark place to harden off before planting them in a week or two. Rain is forecast in the coming week. Soil preparation included fish meal spread over the wood ashes in the garden by the barn, worked in with a rototiller. Using a wheel hoe I next made six rows each about 25' long and three inches deep. I dropped compost into the bottom inch of each row, then planted a row of red onion sets, another row of yellow Stuttgarter (these store till the following June), a row of swiss chard, a row of three varieties of beets (some for greens), and a row of lettuce and arugula. I left the sixth row open. Using a regular hoe I spread soil over the tops of the seeds, and sets, leaving about an inch and a half of depression in each row. This will fill in gradually as the year goes on, while for now the effect is to keep the seedlings from spilling out of the rows in case of a hard rain. I also rototilled in the large garden down the road, a second pass to till in some of the buckwheat straw I never got around to tilling in last fall; and in the small garden out toward the orchard, the one that a former owner of this property had used as a garden spot. Each year at this time I promise to haul seaweed from the causeway to use as mulch between the rows, but it's been more than a few years since I got some. The seaweed has about as much nitrogen as manure, as well as trace minerals, and it's very good for the tilth of the soil once it breaks down. Over the years I've worked out thru trial and error a routine for keeping the soil healthy and planting with a minimum of time and labor. In the early years I put a lot of seaweed into the soil, and no, it doesn't turn the vegetables salty. More recently I've been purchasing soil amendments and working them in.