The 2012 Garden Season is Underway!
Over the past two weeks at Hunny-Bunny Farm we’ve begun our planting season, albeit, in the greenhouse. The greenhouse is heated by a radiant heated 10,000 Btu. wall mounted LP heater that was professionally installed by my son, the plumber. It is supported by two 40 gallon LP tanks which are alternately filled when one runs out. Depending on the weather, (and this winter has so far been extremely mild), I use, on average, about one tank every two weeks. This keeps the greenhouse temperature at a minimum of 55 – 60° F. As you can see from the pictures we will be harvesting some salad greens within two weeks. In addition, I’ve begun some of my seedlings for later transplant of the hardier vegetables beginning with the broccoli. This upcoming week I will start my cabbage plants as well.
My germination experiment is also completed with mixed results. Any
seed older than 2009, with the exception of the lentil beans (2007) failed! Most everything from 2011 sprouted and it was about a 50/50 ratio on seed from 2010. That includes seed from my own stock produced at Hunny-Bunny Farm. Surprisingly I had bantam corn from 2010 H-B stock that sprouted and yet I had stock from a friend in PA from 2011 that failed. Based on my little experiment I will toss all my 2009 and older seed stock in a wild field behind my property for the wildlife. I will keep just 2010 and 2011 seed stock. I will also try my friends Butler sweet corn once again because this is really perplexing.
I’ve also taken a sample of my vegetable garden soil for testing at the State Cooperative Extension in Storrs, CT. It’s amazing that here we are at February 18th and the ground is not frozen solid. I was able to dig down to six inches to take my 30 or so samples throughout the garden. I was also hoping that the compost was unfrozen so that I could begin to apply it to the surface of the garden for turning in beginning March 1st or so. That however, was not the case. That said I anticipate the compost thawing by the time my lab analysis results are back and I can formulate an overall fertilization plan.
Also generally speaking the time for dormant trimming of the fruit trees is at hand, but this unseasonable weather means that the cuts will bleed sap because we don’t have the deep freeze that usually accompanies trimming. At any rate, the trimming needs to be done so I will proceed judiciously so as not to weaken the tree overall.
Something to note about the results of this non-winter winter is that many parasites, fungi, insect pests were not killed by long and deep winter freezes this could mean that these pests could be abundant come the warm spring and summer seasons. Be especially careful about mosquitoes and ticks on you, your family, and pets. Remove all standing water regularly and don’t venture into the woods without preventative cover of “Skin-so-Soft” and long sleeves and pants. Also be prepared to do battle with many plant pests this coming season as they proliferate.
In addition to the vegetable garden I’m turning the former “rabbit garden” into an herb garden and this time I’m concentrating on medicinal herbs for home remedies. The culinary herbs already growing there will, of course, continue, but special emphasis will be on medicinal herbs. Back at the vegetable garden I’ve decided to reformulate my layout. While I will still have rows they will be three feet wide with 18 inches between each wide row. The rows themselves will be segmented into eight foot wide “beds”, so to speak. In this way I will be combining the best of bed gardening with ease of maintenance of the row garden. I expect I will also be able to use in each segment bed a French Intensive technique for increased yield. I will naturally, report on my progress in future issues.
Finally, I think I discovered the reason why my old hens began laying once again. It seems I ran across a folkloric remedy book entitled the long lost friend. This was the “powwowers” prayerbook for home cures and folk remedies that covered everything from chilblains to hexes. It was printed by Amish Faith-healers in the 19thcentury, (more
about this subject in later posts). In one remedy it said to restore old hen egg-laying feed them rabbit droppings. All this winter the rabbitry cleanup has been dumped on the garden for readily available compost in the upcoming season. The chickens during the winter have had the run of this garden and when I dump the droppings on the garden they go to work spreading it out. Perhaps, just perhaps, they also ate a bit of the droppings and thus the folk remedy mat well be true! It could, of course, just be a function of the lengthening days, but certainly ol’ Mountain Mary’s folk medicine sounds more colorful. All I know is that they’ve begun laying once again so I won’t have to get new pullets until next year.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.