October 23, 2009

2010 Garden Preparations

I am so glad to finally have completed our to-do list for next year's garden. You may recall that we first broke the ground for it back in August. At that time I also had a soil test done and sowed buckwheat as a green manure crop. Unfortunately (probably due to lack of rain) none of the buckwheat seemed to come up. Needless to say I was disappointed.

Without a green manure crop, I was anxious to plant another lest the weeds and unwanteds tried to take over again. September and October are a good time to plant annual rye here, but getting to the garden was delayed several times. Firstly, because I ordered 50 lbs of kelp meal to till in with the lime. I expected it to arrive within the week. What I didn't know, was that it was backordered. We waited and waited until finally I called the company. I was told that it should be in by September 24th. That date came and went and then we got a postcard telling us it was backordered a second time.

When we decided to go ahead and till without the kelp meal, it started to rain. We had almost 5 inches of rain during the last week and a half in September, and more than three by the middle of October. No tilling until the soil could dry out! Finally we got three beautifully mild, sunny days this week, so for the past two, we've been in the garden.

Oh-oh. Deer tracks in the gardenSomething I found though, concerned me. The day before yesterday, I went out to the garden to spread wood ashes from the woodstove. Lo and behold, I discovered deer tracks. I've seen deer on the property several times, but always in the back near the woods. I'm not sure what they were after, but they were back the next night as well. How do I know? Because I found more tracks in the ashes I had spread the day before. That's the photo on the left.

By the time we start spring planting, the goat fence will be up. Although it won't fence the garden in, it will block easy access to the garden from the woods. Even so, we are thinking we need to fence in next year's garden anyway.

Lone buckwheat plant.The other thing I discovered, was that a couple dozen buckwheat plants actually did grow! (Photo on right.) These weren't enough to do the soil much good, but I was happy to find them anyway. Next spring, when we till the rye in, I will plant buckwheat wherever a spring garden crop doesn't go. Buckwheat is supposed to be excellent at competing with and smothering out weeds, and is a great soil builder.

Over the past two days we've applied 355 lbs of dolomitic limestone, 12 lbs of muriate of potash, and a little over 38 lbs of triple phosphate. Ordinarily I wouldn't consider using chemical fertilizers, but the condition of our soil is pretty poor and these were the recommendations which came with the soil test. We will continue to improve upon the soil with green manure crops and compost, and in the spring, Dan will till the kelp meal in (assuming it's arrived by then!)

My bargain spreaderI found this little hand-held seed spreader at WalMart for about $8. Unfortunately it didn't work well for the fertilizers, as they were too chunky to go through the opening. I broadcast these by hand and then Dan tilled them in twice, once each way. The spreader worked great for the annual rye seed however. How evenly I got it spread remains to be seen!

The fruit of our labors? Shown in the photo below, which
actually doesn't look much different than the last production garden photo I showed you. That will change when the rye comes up!

All the fall chores are done for now.There are a few differences in the two photos though. The most obvious is the circles of tilled ground you see on the left of the above photo. There are five of these, ready and waiting for our orchard: two apple, two pears, and an almond tree. Even though we have plenty of pecan trees here, Dan prefers almonds so this tree will be for him. The trees should be delivered next month, so we're almost ready for them. We'll work the precious bit of compost we have into the soil before planting them, which will give them a good start.

The band of white you see in the photo is a large tarp, spread out to kill the weeds underneath. A lot of them are shrubby or viney, and we need a clear area to walk around the garden. One of the compost piles is also there on the right.

You can't see them in the above photo, are the corner and brace posts near the garden's back corner. In the photo below, you can see two posts for a gate.

Visualize a fence along here.What exactly is this a photo of? Well, it shows the way the ground drops off by the road. It's not a big drop, but it's steep, so Dan would like to dry in a short stone wall along there. Behind that on top of the embankment, we plan to put up a zig zag rail fence. I will plant bushes in the zigs on the garden side, and flowers in the zags on the road side. At the top of my planting list is elderberry bushes; what else, I haven't decided. This arrangement will provide privacy while working in the garden, which I am especially glad of.

So. As you can see it's been a very busy two days. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, and it can come without my having to worry about getting our garden preparations done. What a relief.

2010 Garden Preparations text & photos copyright October 2009 


Renee Nefe said...

I wonder if critters got your buckwheat seeds or seedlings? You're busy, busy, busy!

Theresa said...

Oh deer I know about...lots of deer. Maye they just use the property to travel through! :-)
Looks great Leigh. You two are so industrious. Looks like 2010 will be a blue ribbon garden.

kaat said...

Looking good!

We sowed buckwheat and it came up without a problem. Amie loved picking the flowers, and we marveled at home such huge seeds could come out of such tiny flowers. It was very good for the weeds, for sure, and the soil is now very spongy and loose, and home to rye and fava beans.

Good luck!

Benita said...

Your place is going to be lovely when you get it done. Something you might consider for the deer - Supposedly they hate marigolds. Maybe a perimeter planting of them?

Leigh said...

Renee, I wondered about that. I also wondered if anyone has ever tried the hair treatment for deer like they did in The Rookie *G

Theresa, I certainly hope so. This is the first time we've tried to do it "by the book." Once we get those goats we'll have plenty of manure and that will be a big help.

Kaat, thanks! I'm heartened to hear about your buckwheat. Did you try to use the buckwheat seeds as a grain? I'm curious about that as I love buckwheat.

Benita, I love planting flowers so I'll give the marigolds a try. Your comment makes me think that I need to research how to keep deer away.

bspinner said...

Will the deer jump over a goat fence?
I bet you can't wait to get your hands in the soil and start planting.

Anonymous said...

there is only one way to keep deer out, a really high fence. we spent over 20 years battling deer. don't waste your time or money on anything else. take it from me because i have done just that. oh by the way they won't eat daffodils, but that is about it.

Leigh said...

Barb, yes, they could. Our goat fence will be about 4 feet tall and from what I've read, deer need an 8 foot fence to be deterred.

Anonymous, I can just picture a deer ravaged yard with nothing but daffodils left! The odd thing is, is that they never touched this year's garden, which is on the other side of the house. Nor did they seem to affect our next door neighbor's garden, which is behind their house on the other side of their property. I'm not sure what attracted them to our new spot, but I'm sure they'll remember and be back. *sigh

Anonymous said...

8 feet is right. one thing we found worked was to plant things for them to eat outside the fence. they seemed to lose interest on the other side. we lived in suburban chicago, lake county, and the area is crawling with deer. they hang out in apartment complexes, shopping malls, everywhere. coyotees and great horned owls too. an owl got my friends 9 lbs minpin right out of her fenced 1/4 tract home yard while she stood 25 feet away. she doesn't even have a mature tree within sight of her house. it's unreal. i love your place by the way. reminds me of my aunt emmas home back in the 50's.