Monday, May 4, 2009

Digging In

This spring is warmer and drier than usual, with the growing season about a week or so ahead of normal, although the birds don't seem to be ahead of schedule--the early warblers still aren't here, the yellow rump and magnolia. A few days ago I was walking the southeastern property line and found quite a few skunk cabbages standing at attention in the swampy places. They did smell skunky, too. Green leaves emerge from a brown striped sheath. They don't really look like cabbages, but their leaves that come right out of the ground look more like large petals. Temps have been in the 50s and even 60s during the day since I got here last Wednesday night, and just above freezing at night; a little rain for half a day but otherwise very pleasant.

It's a little too late to plant peas, and I found to my chagrin that I couldn't get the BCS tractor started--this is the first time that has happened in fifteen years with this #735 tractor. I changed the plug and did everything else I knew to do but nothing worked. On Saturday I pushed it up some inclined planks and into the pickup truck, having parked the truck downhill to make the incline not very steep; then took it to a local small engine shop for repair. Bob promised it for this week. Luckily I was able to use the small Mantis tiller to break up the soil in the garden by the barn, and in part of the garden down by the Scotts. This is one of the reasons to have back-ups, whether with hard drives or rototillers.

The garden by the old store is going to lie fallow this year, or I will plant a cover crop, while I work on the fences. Last year the deer got in for the first time in more than 20 years, and they would remember and get in this year also. And so I will be using the garden up the road to the orchard for beans, and possibly squash and the garden down to the Scotts for potatoes, tomatoes and soybeans. The garden by the barn will be for greens, cole crops, onions, and cucumbers. Today I planted two varieties of potatoes: Dark Red Norland, and Satina, each about 30 feet of row. I don't have high hopes for them in that garden, which is apt to be dry; but we'll see. Tomorrow before the rain comes I intend to plant out some cole crops, lettuce, beets, onions and spinach.

On Friday I went to the Fedco tree sale and picked up some soil amendments, onions, potatoes, and five bushes: a "blizzard" variety of mockorange, two red chokeberries (pron. chock-a-berry) and two black chokeberries; these I planted out this afternoon atop the bank behind the house. When I build a deck off the back of the house these bushes will be even nicer to look at. I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up around the outside of the house where Kenny and Raymond left a lot of scrap wood and stuff from their work re-doing the porch last winter. I'd hoped they wouldn't wait till the last minute, but I should be grateful with their schedule that they were able to get to it at all.

I was down in the valley behind the house yesterday cutting down some spruce that had been growing up there. More has to be cut down when and as I can.

Martha Dane passed by this afternoon with her two dogs as I was planting the potatoes. She walks the dogs on the back road of my property, which is fine with me. I want this kind of traffic on that road; without any at all, from me or neighbors, the vegetation will grow up and even as it is the tree branches have to be trimmed, which I did last fall. Martha said that deer were plentiful this spring and had eaten her tulips. So I've planned to raise the fence around this garden when I get a chance. Half of the garden will be planted to a cover crop, probably buckwheat.

The apple trees are leafing out to the point where it's possible to see blossoms ready to burst on the earliest trees. It's too early to tell how good a year for apple blossoming this will be.

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