Sunday, April 27, 2008

exhausting weekend!

Planting Early

I couldn't quite figure out how to get the pictures lined up... we'll have to add more as spring moves along of the pups and the plants as they mature. It will take a while for us to show all the people and animals and plants that share this property. The more the merrier, it is a fun place to be. MK and I tilled a few times, and raked, a sure way to help prevent against weeds. I planted on April 16, the day after tax day, an unprecedented early. This is supposed to be a mild spring, so I crossed my fingers and went for it. I heard you are okay to plant when the apple trees bloom. Everything has seemed to survive except for the cucumbers. The seeds starting sprouting after 7 days and are now coming on full force. I got starts at Lowe's bad idea I guess from what I've read on the web. Their plants are not very hardy. Buy from a local nursery is the best bet. It is all a learning process. We spread some hosre shit, but this fall we'll have to add a whole lot more. Maybe sand and lime and peat too, then let it rest for the winter. We'll just have to see how the season goes... I do like variety, lots of variety. And as things mature we'll have a chance to plant again this summer and try even more things. It is the best way to know what works and what doesn't. Anway, I'm excited for all the food coming this way. It has been so beautiful out here this spring. It is great to get the chance to work outside. I saw a gopher yesterday yikes...

we have lots of fun on the farm

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Garden Log

My sister Sue is famous for keeping a running diary for the past 45 years or so. It contains mostly detailed factoids like: "Dec 3, 1981. . .it rained 5 inches today and boy did we need it". Having that running record has been a beautiful thing because we have found through the years that if the family is having trouble remembering a time period; an event; what exactly was happening when; the date of the big storm in 1977--we can ask Sue and she can dig out the answer from the belly of one of the diaries.

MK had the idea of keeping the garden log so that when our good friend Carol says something obscure to us like "plant your corn when the oak leaves are as big as a squirrel's ear" and I promptly forget two days later and ask everyone who was in the room. . ."was that corn, tomatoes or green beans, because the oak leaves are bigger than a squirrel's ear right now?" we will have the accurate record. So with that in mind. . . .BTW the answer was corn and apparently we need to plant it now. If you wonder about the truth of this, check this out:

April 26, 2008
The garden has been planted for 1.5 weeks now. We got lucky--no new frost. Routinely at this time of year we have one early May or late April day of hard hail during a spring storm and everyone's beautiful plantings get destroyed. Not yet this year, cross our fingers. Today, it rained as much as 3-5 inches in some areas around us--some just 2 miles from our house. It was torrential rain--but it went right around us and we did not get a drop. So MK watered the new plantings for about an hour. She has the pump set up from the stream again so watering is a breeze--just turn it on for about an hour and go back and move it, then turn it off. Wouldn't a timer be amazing? Temp today was mid 70's for the high. Bright sunshine.

I need to get the cantaloupe in the ground on the back hill by Charlie.

April 27, 2008
It rained hard mostly all day today and massive storms were around Greenville. Areas of upstate SC had inch size hail. This is what I fear this time of year around here with planting early. We usually get 1 hail storm that wipes everything out. Cross our fingers. More storms tonight moving through with the cold front but hopefully no hail.

April 28, 2008
The garden grew alot overnight. We had a pretty gentle rain through the night but the official word today was that we got 1.2" the most for any area around here. Seemed like the sprouts just popped right through and they are all doing pretty well. We are still concerned about the cucumbers and may need to replant them as Kate mentioned.

April 29, 2008
These are "cross our fingers" days. We have lots of these in the mountains as spring weather is so unbelievably unpredictable. It is always something to wonder when the next big freeze is going to come. I have heard that it is tonight and hopefully if it happens, it will not be a hard freeze because we could easily lose alot.

There have been many years in the past 8 since we arrived in Brevard, that people who planted in April, lost everything. Cliff, our next door neighbor, is a staunch prescriptionist of "DO NOT plant before May 15, except for 'cold weather crops'. He believes that most will be lost if you do because too many things can happen. We had the garden ready this year--I say "we". I didn't, but take credit anyway for all the hours of hard labor that Kate and Mary Kay did day after day to get the soil ready, the manure tilled in and the weeds raked out. Kate spent literally hours raking until everything was silky smooth and free of weed seedlings. That time has already paid off, as she alluded to in her post.

I remember last year, Mary Kay and I went to Leicester to look at Denver and then buy Denver, around this time of year. He was a looker. Anyway, there was this incredible, beautiful and well-progressed garden on the corner next to his pasture. We went back in late May and everything that was growing so nicely at Mother's Day, had been unmercifully destroyed by a hail storm a few days later. It looked pitiful. Everything was gone. Those people had obviously planted their crops in early April and had experienced everything right up to then. Then, poof. They lost everything. That is how it happens here in the mountains. Year after year. We are crossing our fingers at Hidden Springs tonight. Praying a few little prayers that the frost don't bite too hard and the little sprigs of green remain upright by tomorrow afternoon.

Reading this though, I went to check the temps posted for lows tonight. Frost entirely possible but was confronted with pictures of the Virginia tornados. Aren't we lucky? Those towns look like blown apart popsicle sticks--nothing remains. We are so fortunate that nothing like that happens here.

Rabbit's first garden

I'm brand spakin' new to gardening, and Jane and Mary Kay are letting me plant at Hidden Springs Farm.  I decided to only plant vegetables that I like to eat, so the short list includes: peas, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, and carrots.  Later I'll also plant some pumpkins for Halloween.  All winter long I was dreaming of planting a garden at my house, but when spring came I realized the area I thought was perfect for my full-sun garden, is actually in the shade, thank goodness for friends with large gardens, and power tillers.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Birth of Hidden Springs

It's finally spring, the garden is in (thanks to Kate and Mary Kay) who labored for hours planting 26 kinds of vegetables. Kate decided to go for quality this year and was enamoured with the idea of variety instead of massive quantities of what we had planted last year. The rhubarb is now ready (yes Irene, all 10 plants of it--enough to feed the entire town of Brevard). The Blueberries survived the winter and thrived under the horse and chicken manure feedings as did the raspberry vines. We are going to have an excellent crop of both this year, only the second year they have been in the ground. A friend at Brevard College gave us extras in both the blueberry and raspberry department from her yard--we worried that some of the blueberries died, but they did not and the transplantings are all doing nicely.

Mary Kay's sister Meg, who will be here once a month from now on, commented during her last short visit, that we had enough food here to not go to the store for 2 years! As we really desire to be off the grid someday, this was a very pleasant to our ears comment.