Ugh! I feel so guilty that we have not blogged for such a long time – like maybe all of winter? But life on the farm truly does slow down from a farming point of view in those winter months.
With all that lack of activity, Roy and I finally bit the bullet and joined a gym to keep us moving through the slow winter months. Between that and the day to day activities of raising our large family, we have been kept busy for sure – but nothing really farm-blogworthy!
We have started gardening – some indoor and some outdoor.
Our garlic from last fall has done quite well. Our parsnips survived the winter and are providing us with a sweet spring harvest! Onion sets are planted, and after the proverbial onion snow, have started to truly take off!
Early spring plantings of lettuce, carrots, chard, beets and kohlrabi are all in the small garden.
Last year’s compost has beautifully fertilized our rhubarb. Planted from transplants from a friend’s heirloom patch, they are truly thriving here this year and have already budded flowers which we quickly removed to allow more energy to the stems and leaves. Hopefully we’ll be harvesting when the strawberries are ready – they are already flowering!
We have already sampled the sprouting asparagus. It will be a while before we harvest enough that there is some to bring up to the house. For now it provides a wonderful snack while we’re planting!
Squash seeds have been started indoors and have exceeded our expectations — like, they are going so crazy in here that I’m afraid they’re going to have to go in the ground before I’m ready to put them there! Hopefully there will be no late frosts! Cucumbers, spaghetti squash, butternut, and zucchini are all thriving, as are the watermelon!
Sun flowers were to be started today, but met with a sad fate. Happy daughters ventured out in the fleeting sunshine today to fill cell pots with potting soil, and while turned to work on that, Mr. Finnley stole the seeds and quickly ingested the lot of them! Guess the girls will learn a lesson. The less couthe boys started to wonder if the seeds might sprout better in Finnley’s, ahem, “fertilizer”!
And now to why I sat down to write today before heading out to mow the lawn. Our Ruth Stout garden practices seem to be quite successful! Last year we mulched around all of the plants with a very thick layer of old hay from the old barn across the street. It was a wonderful summer with little to no weeding and no watering except for newly emerging seedlings!
At the end of the growing season, we blanketed the whole garden (except the strawberries) with a thick layer of hay. We even unrolled round bales and added old hay from the sheep’s leavings, complete with their manure. A couple of weeks ago we opened up a row to put peas in. I kid you not – every handful of soil beneath that composting hay was filled with 5 to 10 worms -red wigglers, nightcrawlers – TONS of worms! THAT is how I measure the success of the Ruth Stout method! The soil was cold and wet and rather clumpy when we tried to till it. It was a mucky job, but we ended up getting the peas in – either pushed into the soil or covered with 1 1/2 inches of clumpy muck. We waited to see what would happen, and happily they have sprouted! Yesterday we planted the remaining peas. This time we decided not to till – just to push them into the soil. When these get tall enough, we’ll push the hay back around them!
One of the things Ruth Stout did that both impressed and intrigued us was to plant her potatoes with no tilling or soil handling whatsover. Her book was written many years ago, so I thought by now there would be plenty of gardeners out there who have tried her technique. We watched this video (they have quite a few wonderful instructional videos, by the way) and were convinced it was worth trying. Ruth said that she simply put the potatoes on the ground and covered them with straw or compost of some sort – enough to cover them from sunlight. We had quite a few sprouted potatoes left over from last year, and they are now nestled under the hay. When they begin to rise through the hay, we will “hill” them with more hay! When we want to check how they’re doing, we just lift the hay and peek – and even sneek a new potato or two if we wish!
Enough for now. Time to mow. Pennsylvania is so beautiful during the springtime – partly because of the lush green pastures! The sheep will mow their part – and I’ll mow mine!