Manure and Dreams of Future Corn: December Wishetwurra Farm Garden

Our first real freeze came a few days ago. Up on our morainal hill, the temperature got down to the mid to low twenties, but on the outwash plain, out at the airport, the low temperature was sixteen degrees. It gets cold at night, out on the plains.

This morning, at five-fifteen AM, in a gentle rain, it was fifty-one degrees. Last year, on the same date, at five thirty in the morning, we woke to sixty-one degrees.

Yesterday I brought in the year’s forty-ninth pickup truck load of manure, forked and wheelbarrowed it into the Far South End of Wishetwurra Farm, and tilled it into the soil. It’s too late to plant a cover crop, so the far end will stay stripey for the winter. The green center stripe is a mix of oats and yellow mustard. The oats will winter-kill, but the mustard may not. The mustard is an experiment. If it survives the cold weather, it will have to get tilled under before it gets too tall next spring. This lazy gardener would prefer to have his cover crops winterkill. He’s lazy that way.


During 2012, six or seven truckloads of manure have been incorporated into this “far end” section of the garden. A big thank you to the cows, sheep, and who contributed in passing.

We still haven’t decided what to plant in the Far South End next year, but it might be our corn patch. We have been planting “Fioriana” red italian corn each year for the last few years, and have gotten fond of the beautifully colored and tasty meal the ground kernels produce. Fedco Seeds says that the variety comes from the Valsugana Valley in northern Italy, where it is reputed to be the favored polenta corn. A googlemaps view of that valley shows a beautiful patchwork of fields, on either side of a braided river.

Each year we select three or four of the best-looking, easiest-shelling cobs, for our next year’s planting.


A gallon jar of Fioriana corm. So far we’ve made cornbreads, pancakes, and some nifty cornmeal/fennel cookies. We haven’t done any polenting with this corn, but one of these days we will.

This morning, the ladder went up for the last 2012 aerial view of Wishetwurra Farm.

Here is the north end.


Seaweed mulch expanding on the asparagus patch. Next patch of green is fall greens and winter leeks, beds below are in various stages of soil building and cover cropping.

Here is the middle.


Top (nearest) bed to R of path is being built up with layers of manure and dirt. Between boards is garlic patch, planted late September and early October. Greens are cover crops…mostly oats. Darker strips are beds that will get some more manure tilled in before spring, if time and weather permit.

And here is the Far South End.


“What’s where” is described at the “middle” image.  The trusty Troy-Bilt tiller, with its upside-down trash can “garage”, shows redly.

Thanks for coming along on the last garden tour of the year.


8 responses to “Manure and Dreams of Future Corn: December Wishetwurra Farm Garden

  1. Troy-bilt – yes. Corn is a heavy feeder. Put lots of horseshit where you’re gonna plant corn, for sure.

  2. Your farms and gardens remind me so much of a farm I worked on when I was in high school; the farmer — Ms. Sterret — would grow a wide variety of organic green beans, lettuce (deer-tongue was, I think, the tastiest, even if somewhat bitter), squashes and other vegetables to sell at a massive farmer’s market in Columbus, OH. She too would gather manure from local friends (especially the Amish that are quite populous in eastern Ohio), till it into the soil, and plant alfalfa for winter cover.
    I tell you, picking, cleaning, and packing what must have been hundreds of pounds of lettuce a day was harder work than many urbanites might imagine! The organic, homemade lunches she cooked for the hands, however, were well worth it; the afternoon nap — more from a full belly than weariness — were also nice!

    I certainly look forward to the next images of Wishetwurra in 2013!

  3. I’ll have to measure the square footage of Wishetwurra Farm. It’s somewhere between four and five thousand square feet. Not just a micro farm, it’s a “mini-microfarm”.

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