Thursday, June 16, 2011

From Tilling to Mowing

I mark the seasonal shift from planting to mowing when I finish up with the rototiller attachment on the tractor (which occurred today) and remove it to put on the sickle bar for mowing. Ideally this takes place in the middle of June, but in some years the weather does not cooperate. This year it has done so. The beans I planted a week ago are up, with relatively few areas where I must replant, although there was a spell of about four days when the soil cooled and rain fell and the dampness threatened to rot the beans in the ground. But not this year, apparently. As usual, I concentrated on dry beans for vegetarian chili, soups, and baked beans. Light red kidney, black coco, and jacob's cattle gasless went in six rows, while snap beans took up a seventh, and in an eighth and ninth row I planted some to keep for seed, to keep the varieties growing: Montcalm red kidney, red Mexican, Maine surprise, Hutterite soup beans, BE 205, and a few others. That was about a week ago.

This afternoon, late, I hoed them for the first time since they poked through the ground a few days ago, and used the wheel hoe with the two slicing bars, which goes fairly quickly compared with a long-handled hoe. The same treatment was extended to the beets, lettuce, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, and spinach. The tomatoes are getting used to their new place outside the pots and their roots are extending below the IRT mulch. It usually takes about ten days for them to anchor in, and then they begin to grow rapidly. My last act of spring rototilling turned over the ground in the garden down the road to the Scotts' house, which I usually plant with dry beans; but having enough of a back stock of these, I confined them to the garden by the old store in a smaller area this year, and gave over this larger garden (about twenty feet by ninety feet) to a cover crop--this year a combination of buckwheat and millet, which I hope will smother weeds and produce a good deal of biomass. After five or six weeks the buckwheat will flower and I will have to decide whether to let it go or cut it and the millet down, wait a bit and incorporate it into the soil, and then plant a second crop of buckwheat. I will be hauling up seaweed from the ocean to this garden also. The next thing to do to it now is to repair the tops of the fences where I put up a wire or string with some aluminum foil pie plates to deter the birds and deer. In the near future aside from mowing the fields and weeding the gardens, there will be time to hill up the potatoes and continue to harvest greens for salads. Spinach will go to seed in a week or two so once it gets large enough it will be harvested and put up for the winter and spring. My attempts to grow a fall crop of lettuce and spinach have never succeeded in producing large enough plants in the fall, and perhaps this year I will not even try. We shall see.

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