Early Garden Preparation
Needless to say if you live in the Northeastern U.S. you’ve been experiencing an unusual end of winter. It seems that for the first time in my recollection the ground never thoroughly froze this winter. In fact, though I had prepared my tackle, I did not have a chance to do any ice fishing, which is something I hadn’t done in many years, because the lakes never developed anything more than a now and again, light skim-coat of ice. That of course was the bad news of this winter, but the good news is that I could get a jump on the summer garden. Indeed, precisely because of the extremely unseasonable winter it seems that spring arrived almost unexpectedly. I spied shoots from the spring bulbs here in early February and marked my first robin siting on February 22nd.
So with great anticipation and joy of the short duration of cabin fever I set off with fervor in my earthy endeavors. I tilled the ground in the days before St. Patrick’s Day, incorporating compost, blood meal (nitrogen), and kelp meal (potassium). The added nitrogen and potassium was a recommendation of the State Soil Testing Lab in Storrs, CT. Meantime, I had already done trials on the viability of my saved seed and by the beginning of March, 2012 had begun many of the cool season crops in the greenhouse.
The week following St. Patrick’s Day I made my wide-bed rows and planted my peas as well as several of the root crops like: potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, beets, and hardy greens like mustard, broccoli raab, Mache, kale and others. The extended weather forecast is that my gamble will give me a three to five week advantage on the early harvest of my produce.
At the same time the salad greens started in early February were ready
for harvest along with the watercress started in my fledgling aquaculture attempt, resulting in an extended family feast, after Mass on Sunday, of a mess of fresh greens for the salad. Wow! This is the earliest I can ever remember eating from my garden, and what a welcome change from the force-ripened vegetables from the food store. BTW, the handful of watercress I bought from the food store for the makeshift aquaponics tank performed as expected and roots are extending deep into the aquarium indicating that they have permanently established themselves, at least ‘til the scorching summer heat withers them. I added some “feeder” fish about two weeks ago to provide initial “fertilizer” through their droppings. I also ordered a trio of tilapia buttikoferi, with the expectation of not only raising some fry, but also attempting to have at least one meal of them by fall 2012.
Some Unanticipated Setbacks
As in all undertakings in partnership with Mother Nature there is always looming about the chance of failure despite our best efforts at success. Once again my bees failed! The weaker hive, which I anticipated failing based on their lack of strength, did so early in winter. The more perplexing, and I might add frustrating, (or as they say in ‘da Bronx …fusstrating) was the stronger hive, which lasted through the heights of winter only to succumb in the last ten days or so; this despite my feeding them the proscribed February feedings. Playing Monday morning quarterback it was either the CCD (colony collapse disorder) or the feed bucket dripping more than needed at each feeding soaking the cluster of bees in cold weather, that was the cause of the colony’s demise. At any rate, I’ve got an order of three “packages” of honeybees coming in the wee hours of the morning of Easter. A supplier, Adam Storch, is driving south to Georgia to pick them up along with a few dozen other hives for various beekeepers. So in a manner of speaking you might say that the Storch is bringing them on Easter morn…! Humm.., yes! Well… moving on…! We also had a significant setback in the rabbitry as both prospective moms, one experienced and the other new, lost their kits; a total of five in all. Unfortunately, I can’t explain it! Especially with the more experienced doe. Perhaps early March is just too cold for baby production in New England, I don’t know… but I will give them a ten day rest and rebreed them as these rabbits will be key in the meat locker most especially with the cost of meat rising so fast, as well as, the so-called “pink slime” additive of the commercial food store chains to their meats. If you don’t know about pink slime yet, I suggest you Google it to get all the disgusting facts.
So that’s the way it is here at Hunny-Bunny Farm this early 2012 spring. I will keep y’all informed of future developments. Keep up those Rosaries for the Consecration of Russia, as things seem to be heating up mightily in the Syria-Iran-Israel war theater, most especially with the introduction of elite Russian troops in support of Assad in Damascus. Also continue your preparations as no one can say what will be the state of our nation if and when the US enter the fray in force. Certainly, fuel costs will go through the roof.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.