March 2013 Wishetwurra Farm Garden Report

The last remnants of the last snowdrift melted away from the Wishetwurra Farm garden on the first day of March. The equinox is a little over two weeks away.

Now on sunny days, the garden earth is exposed to the strengthening, ascending, and warming sun. Snowdrop, crocus and aconite are blooming. First early daffodils have buds, and will bloom as soon as weather permits. You know that their bloom time is getting near when the bud stops being vertical and turns downward. After that, the outer cover will split, and the flower will unfold.

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We once again raise up and ascend the forty-two year old Poindexter Memorial Half-ladder, for our viewpoint, sixteen feet above the garden. The PM/H-L was once a thirty-two foot extension ladder. I made the halves get a divorce, on account of irreconcilable differences.

This time of year, the garden is mostly in waiting. Soil improvement continues —  to the right of the greenhouse you see a windrow of leaves, freshly raked off the house flower gardens, waiting to be spread and tilled in to the dirt underneath. Further downslope is a bed that’s being double-dug…organic material and manure will be layered and tilled in as the bed is rebuilt.

One of the first chores of the new season was to go through the garden and weed out the clumps of chickweed that had gotten established. The area in front of the greenhouse door was a solid green mass of grass and chickweed.

No longer.

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In the near left foreground is the Poindexter Memorial Ladder’s shorter cousin, half of an aluminum twenty-foot extension ladder. The halves are still sound, but their linking mechanisms don’t work safely any more. So those halves stay permanently separated, like their bigger cousin.

Looking down the middle path — the “Mason-Dixon Line”, the light tan colored areas are where last year’s cover crop of oats still covers the dirt. If I want any beds to warm up sooner, I’ll rake the oat leaf residue off, to let the sun into the dirt. Otherwise, it’s possible to just plant through the mulch layer, and let the old oat leaves decompose in place.

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The area that’s darker and stirred up? A skunk got into the garden last night, and had a rootin’ good time, looking for grubs ‘n’ goodies in the manurey earth. I won’t feel nearly as charitable about this sort of invasion once there are rows and rows of newly planted seeds or freshly emerged seedlings. Maybe as a distraction I should  put some manure outside of the garden, on plants that won’t be bothered by skunkly scuffling?

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In the photo below, of the south side of the garden, the light gray bed, nearer to you, is the eelgrass-mulched garlic bed. Those garlic plants that did not emerge last fall are now starting to see the light of day. Once the weather is fully above freezing, these plants will take off.

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Detail of lower southern section. The sort rows are spinach, lettuce, onions, and shallots, all planted last fall. Not much of the spinach survived, but the plants that did will be huge in another month or six weeks. The onions and shallots were fall-planted as an experiment. We have in the past planted these alliums in the spring. If the fall planting works, we’ll do more of it.

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The greenhouse is weeded, inside, early spring greens are growing, and the first flats of seedlings are being moved in. Lettuces and mesclun so far, then cole family flats will arrive, along with the alliums.

Tomato and pepper plants, and the first flower starts — the tithonia and the asters, will stay under the skylights inside the house until the weather is much warmer.

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Our next report will be in a month.

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4 responses to “March 2013 Wishetwurra Farm Garden Report

    • A simple, plastic covered house like mine is not that difficult to construct. If you don’t have the skills or room for one, it’s astonishing what you can do with cold frames. All you need is an old window or sliding glass door panel. If you don’t have that you can can use plastic water jugs or bottled water carboys with bottoms cut off. Eliot Coleman has some good books on winter vegetable growing

      • Thanks, I would love to look into that. I actually do have room for a greenhouse but never knew how to go about building one.

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