Sunday, April 27, 2014
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Unlike the bed to the left, which I'd covered in cardboard and a thick layer of soil mix last September in order to smother the grass, for this particular bed, we actually had to remove the sod since there wouldn't be enough time for it to break down this spring. It wasn't as intense as I thought it would be since the soil is not as compact this time of year and the grass was like a matted carpet that we easily lifted in small sections with a garden fork. We'll need to add a good amount of organic matter to this bed, but aside from that, it's pretty much good to go. As you can see from this photo, we also removed a section of fencing because we grew sick and tired of having to walk all the way around this fence to access the side door to our barn. Later this year, I intend to install a small informal walkway where the remaining patch of grass lies. For now, I can only imagine what this space will look like once it becomes filled.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
For the most part, digging up our front lawn was not too arduous. We encountered several mighty roots and rocks when we dug near where the old maple trees used to be, but all in all, the soil was in decent shape. Our holes were about 2 feet wide and 20 inches deep. When planting out our trees, we replaced the soil in each hole with high quality soil mix obtained from a local landscaping company and firmed it well. I also mulched the top several inches of each planting hole with some amazing leaf mold taken from the neighborhood compost pile behind our home. We've had quite a bit of rain earlier this week, which I'm sure helped greatly to settle the soil around these trees.
We encountered much more resistance when we went about planting my row of high-density apple trees in a spot to the side of our home where a row of cedars used to be. The topsoil was virtually nonexistent and filled with lots of large rocks and tangled roots. It took us a good 45 minutes to dig each hole and by the time we reached the depth desired, there was nothing but shale.
Here is the pile of rocks we removed from the first three holes alone.
Ideally for this growing method I would have planted un-pruned trees with many short feathers, but unfortunately, this was not an option with the nurseries I'd purchased from. I will most likely miss out on a first harvest next year because of this, but to have apples within two years of planting is still an accomplishment.
Because of the tight spacing, each tree will be supported by a 10 feet length of medal conduit driven two feet into the ground. I still have to tie my trees to the poles and bend down any existing branches to focus most of the tree's energy into growing the leader, but other than that, most of the hard work is now done. I really liked how this project turned out and am looking forward to seeing how this particular growing method performs in our small home orchard. As for now, I can only imagine the wall of different apples that might one day come into fruition.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
We awoke to snow this morning. After two weeks of 'spring-like' weather, this came as quite a shock. I'd forgotten that temperatures were excepted to plummet last night. It was 50 degrees F at 11 PM - right when I was about to head to bed. Luckily I decided to check the weather forecast. To my horror, the folks at weather.com said that by dawn, temperatures were likely to drop to near freezing. So out I went in my pajamas and rain jacket to cover my beds and haul all of my more tender potted trees and shrubs and trays of seedlings back indoors. Since we are heading out of town for the remainder of this week, I also had to figure out how to protect my plants while we're away, which required me to drastically reorganize my indoor growing shelves and find a frost-free place outdoors for my larger plants and shrubs. Unfortunately for me, it was also pouring rain last night and by the time I went back inside at around midnight, I felt like a drowned rat. When I conveyed this story to my husband and neighbors (who were all asleep at the time of course), they were more struck by my gardening devotion than anything else. Better to be regarded a devoted gardener than a crazy person I guess.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
I love this time of year. The weather is perfect for working outdoors and this past weekend was no exception. We've been very busy flexing our muscles these past few weeks and are slowly making process on our garden projects for this spring. I planted out some of my early spring greens (spinach, bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna, lettuce and scallions) a week ago and they seem to be thriving. Unlike my old garden, there's not a slug in sight and I'm guessing that it will still be a few more weeks before the first cabbage whites appear. If I'm lucky, I'll actually get "hole-less" Asian greens this time around. At nights, I cover this bed with fabric row cover if temperatures are expected to reach down into the 30's. So far, they've remained untouched by frost. I've also direct sown my Fava beans and snow peas. This year, I'm starting my shell peas and purple podded soup peas in pots as I'm still working on installing their planting beds.
My potted figs have come out of dormancy as well. At our old home, I overwintered my fig trees in our unheated garage with success. When we moved to Vermont, we didn't have a garage so I kept them in an unheated enclosed patio. Unfortunately, they were no match for the severe Vermont winter and both of my original trees died. When we moved back to Massachusetts last spring, I made a second trip to Joe Morle's nursery and purchased three new fig trees - the two varieties I had originally bought ('Black Triana' and 'Paradiso') and an 'Italian Honey' Fig. I had a figs last summer and they were all excellent.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Once all of my fruit trees are planted, I will then focus on planting several dwarf ornamental trees during the next few years. Obviously it will take many years for these trees to become established and fill up this space. To be honest, I don't quite mind. It will be interesting to see how this new space changes and progresses through the years.