The usual view of the garden taken on the 22nd. Some of the stuff littering the foreground has gone.
The usual garden view on a sunny March 15 with all the over the winter accumulation of stuff still littering the foreground and leaf bags littered every where else.
Looking down our much less muddy lane way on the 15th
A week later on the 21st. The once muddy lane way is rapidly drying . We need rain. Just a bit. No mud.
I did not get a blog published last week, just got overwhelmed with other things.
A warm spring afternoon .brings ot kids in wheel barrows and kids barefoot on bikes.
The week of March 8 to the 14th was an improvement as the ground was by then, not muddy … in most places, and we had been able to work up a small amount of ground in the gardens. It was all done by hand, raking off debris, and using the wheel hoe to make nice straight grooves for seeding into. Two 100 foot rows of broad beans were sown. At least two more rows to go. The beans will just sit there in the soil thinking about it and when there is enough warmth they will begin to germinate. The area between the rows has been thickly mulched with leaves and straw, which will cool the soil and slow germination a bit, but the soil covering the seed rows is exposed, so that part will warm in the sun. More ground will be worked up this coming week, not too much will be planted over the next few weeks.
Two rows of broad beans and further over to the left a row of peach trees. All well mulched with leaves and other good garden debris.
The tools used to prepare the soil for seeding. At the top is a wheel hoe with a mold board plow attachment. This tool is used to make the groove and sometimes for covering the seed. The next tool is a two toothed cultivator on along handle which is used for covering the broad beans and many other seeds. Works great. The bottom tool is a row seed spacer. It is a wheel with short dowel pieces taped on so that when rolled down the groove leaves a dimple every 4 inches. Set a seed in each dimple and there is 4 inch spacing. A seed at each dimple and one between each and two inch spacing and so on. Again, works great.
Dwarf apple trees growing in the garden. These should begin to bear some fruit in 4 to 5 years.
During the week of the 8th to 14th we also got a small number of apple tree whips to plant. We did get a small order of vegetable seeds, some of the broad beans planted were part of that order, but the main order is some weeks away. Most of our suppliers of plants and seeds are extraordinarily busy again this winter and spring and delivery dates are sometimes weeks from when an order is placed.
A few lettuce plants overwintered but though they show so much promise early on they usually don’t do well.
The walking onions always do well. They do need to be cleaned up a bit now but then they are fine on their own.
There is a lot of this chickweed growing and it will make a nice green for salads and cooking in just a few weeks.
A chard plant from last season. There are several that are growing well.
The weather has been gradually improving but the temperatures have been not too much different over the past two weeks. Some really nice warm days of course, when it gets well above freezing on a windless sunny day, but in a lot of places the frost is still just a few, maybe 4, inches down. Despite that there are many little plants left from last season that are slowly growing back. Some of these might grow back enough to give us a small harvest.
The garlic beds. The three rows at the right side grow noticeably larger each week.
A bed of spinach that was late seeded last September and not harvested. Garlic to the right. The spinach may grow out ok, we’ll see.
it is going to need some rain soon and lots of warmth. Really hot weather will not be good for it though.
These turnips were ready for harvest last fall but we did not get to them. They are still just perfectly fine. Nice and firm and cook up well and are growing back.
For the last two weeks we have been quite occupied with planting the apple trees, bringing manure up from the barn, turning milk into cheese and maple sap into maple syrup. The planting of the trees was compounded by the still frozen ground, making it a lot more work than expected. These apple trees could not be held too long as they were bare root and really needed to get into the ground. There is a large manure pack at the barn and it has been in need of moving for some time. Some of this will be worked into the garden this season but most is being put into piles to be composted. We have had excess milk so it is being turned into cheese and yogurt. The cheese is several variations of a simple white cheese made by heating milk slowly to 180°F then adding vinegar or lemon juice to curdle the milk. The curd is then spooned into a colander lined with cheesecloth to drain off the whey. Sometimes it is pressed to remove more whey and left for a few hours in the cheese press with the handle turned frequently. The maple sap has been flowing quite good most days but we cannot process more than about 30 litres a day. We have made about 5 litres of syrup so far. That would be something over 300 litres of sap as we are using Acer negundo, Manitoba maple, instead of Acer saccarum, sugar maple. Not so much sugar in the one as in the other. The sap is boiled off using the wood stove in our kitchen so space is limited. We also cannot boil too vigorously as we cannot overheat the kitchen stove and we don’t want sap splattered all over and making a sticky mess.
A pot of milk, with the requisite thermometer,in the double boiler on the wood stove. Small pot of Maple sap behind it, and the always present coffee pot and kettle at the cooler end of the stove. The white apparatus sitting in a shallow pan, is the cheese press which is only there for the photo.
Maple sap evaporating away water on the kitchen wood burning stove.Counter clock wise from upper right with the freshest sap to lower right with sap getting close to being finished as maple syrup.
The chickens and ducks are really liking this weather now but still not all of the hens are laying quite to their fullest and the ducks have not yet laid an egg this spring. We need to build the chickens new moveable little houses and an incubating and brood house.
An older but fine looking Welsummer hen on the blue plastic road
The hens at the water. The water is now kept out side so as to keep the house drier. The hens were also let out quite late this morning and were quite thirsty.
Leucan. Looking his usual fine self. The other two horses start looking pretty shabby this time of year as their winter coat starts to shed.
Marta, Leucans auntie. Her coat is so much duller than Leucans. But she’ll be nice and shiny soon.