Saturday, March 21, 2009

Something Old, Something New

With the recent beautiful weather and the impending rain, I've been pushing to get as many garden chores done as possible. The new high tunnel has been the priority because the earliest crops are scheduled to go in there and should have been sown 5 days ago.
Since we got the tunnel covered before the rain, I thought we were in good shape, then the frost came out of the ground and it was a muddy, compacted mess. GRRRRRR! So I had to wait until things dried out a bit, as working soil too wet will basically ruin it for the season.
Finally after several warm, windy days things were improving in there so given my patient nature (yeah right) I decided to help things along a bit. I attached the cultivator to my wheel hoe (photo above) and broke up the soil surface so that the air would circulate and dry out the lower layers. It was brutal work and I thanked my lucky stars that the rows in there are only 42' long. It took me an evening and a morning to get through all the beds, but by the second day things were really looking up.
Now it was time to bring in the big tools, no not the tiller...the really big tools! We hooked up my dad's Polaris Ranger 4-wheeler to the old springtooth harrow and pulled it the length of each bed, then unhooked it and carried it to the next bed. It was a little goofy, but it did wonders. The harrow lifts and aerates the soil without turning it over...it is an excellent tool for improving air circulation and eliminating compaction while maintaining the established soil structure.
Finally yesterday things were greatly improved, so the composting stage began...one wheelbarrow load at a time. Luckily the finished compost, which came to us from Reichert's Dairy Air a year ago, is fairly close to the tunnels, but it required about 18 wheelbarrow loads. Once the beds were composted, the "modern" tools came into play. I generally prefer not to till vegetable beds, but since these are brand new, they really required a pass with the big tiller. Now the beds in both tunnels have gotten their spring treatment and are all ready for planting...whew!
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