It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Springtime!

Spring chores are officially in full swing on the homestead.    The weather has just been far too beautiful to ignore and so we’ve been spending every spare moment outdoors preparing for the “real” spring to arrive.  In fact, had you been a fly in the garden this weekend you may have heard such gems as:

“I’m not a girly-girl but I would really appreciate you not throwing poop in my hair.”

“You showed up to a real horse farm to pick up manure with a tarp lining the bed of your Nissan Frontier so as not to get it too dirty.  Dude, you will be the butt of enough jokes to last those people at least a good 6 months.”

“You just used a leaf blower to clean the poop out of the bed of your truck.  Wow!  That JUST happened.”

and my personal favorite

“At what point did I think Crocs would be the appropriate footwear for shoveling horse poop?”

The best, however, was when my husband exclaimed, “WE NEED A FARM!”

Indeed.  We do.

In case you hadn’t already deduced, we spent the weekend shoveling, tilling and raking composted horse manure into all of the beds.  A slippery time was had by all.  Additionally, the rain barrels were pulled out of the garage but not hooked up yet just in case we get another freeze.  I don’t want those bad boys cracking!

Last year you might remember that my husband brought home a turtle and built him an outdoor enclosure in part of the garden.  Where it was located took about 4’x20′ away from the garden.  This year we decided that we just didn’t want to part with that space and so, on Saturday we spent several hours tearing that down and rebuilding it on the back side of the strawberry plot.  His enclosure is now about 4″ narrower but 4′ longer.  Not a bad trade-off, I think.  After building it up with the landscape timbers I skimmed off the sod, my husband tilled in a thin layer of composted horse manure and I spread a bag of tortoise Forage Seed Mix.  It is supposed to be a fast sprouting seed mix so I’m hoping to be able to install him in his new run within about two weeks.  Right now he’s in a custom built enclosure in the basement that is large enough for a grown adult to comfortably sleep in.  My animals definitely do not want for much.

The center path where the original turtle enclosure was was also weeded and tilled with a much thicker layer of manure.  My husband then cut leftover landscape timbers so as to create 3′ planting sections down the length of the path.  I then seeded spinach, romaine, kale, collards, Bulls Blood beets, radishes and mustard.

And then there’s the “garden proper.”  It was weeded and tilled with even more manure to prep it for spring.  My father-in-law will be building 5 A-Frame Garden Trellis’s that will be used for a variety of climbing and trailing fruits and vegetables.  Two will have wood slats across the front and back of the frame instead of fencing so that mesh slings can be hung to hold melons.  I’m hoping this will both save space and keep the bug damage to a minimum this year.  Under the A-Frames we’ll put large planting boxes for shade tolerant vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and other greens.

Indoors I’ve had a TON of success starting seeds.  This is actually the first year I’ve had any luck with it and I’m chalking it up to the fantastic seed starting bench that my father-in-law built for me a couple of years ago.  So far on the rack I’ve got several things sprouted:

2 pans wheat grass
1 pan sunflower greens
1 pan microgreens
1 pan mesclun mix
1 of 2 zucchini
0 of 2 sherbert watermelon
2 of 2 collards
2 of 2 kale
2 of 2 mustard
2 of 2 arugula
5 of 5 celery

Over the weekend I planted under the lights:

A Grappoli D’Inverno Tomato
Black Pineapple Tomato
Illini Star Tomato
Tigger Melon
Orangeglo Melon
Orange Bell Peppers

Today in the mail I should be getting a digital timer bar for the plant lights and two heat mats to help the tomatoes, peppers and squash to germinate faster.  I’m so excited to get home to my package I can hardly stand it.

And finally, last year I planted two rows of onions down the center path in the garden.  When we decided to use that area for the turtle my husband picked all the weeds, thus plucking up every. single. onion set.  Well… except one.  In our weeding this weekend I found one lone purple onion set hanging on.  Hopefully it will produce something.  I’m trying to find a spot to plant an onion bed and a garlic bed.  Hmmm… I wonder if our neighborhood by-laws say anything about having more square footage in your garden than your house.

Until next time!

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