Friday, November 4, 2016

Opening New Ground

For the past couple of weeks I've been gradually opening up a new area and getting ready to plant. You see, my neighbor plans to grow turmeric to sell down at the farmers market, but he hasn't been around in order to get his future garden going. Currently he's working a job out of town and plans to return home shortly. So I've been working on a little surprise for him, something to say "Welcome Home". 

Step 1- Stake Bucky, the goat, out in the future garden area in order to eat and trample the grass down. Over to course of two months, he got most of the area down to 6" high, down from 3 foot of tall tangled mess. 
Step 2- Mow or weedwack (depending upon how much surface rocks there were) the areas that Bucky was done eating. Scalp everything right down to the dirt. 
Step 3- Spray any returning vegetation with 20% vinegar. Respray anything that has the nerve to show green. Repeat until I have the time for the next step.
Step 4- Rototill rows for planting. 
Step 5- Plant
Step 6- Heavily mulch. 

Above, rows starting to show in the grass stubble. Crusty-the-farm-dog was helping me. 

Note, I didn't talk about digging out rocks. The tiller kicked out plenty of rocks but rock removal wasn't one of my goals. The rows I made weren't exactly straight.....they went around the big rocks. Luckily this area had been used to growth something in the past, because about 1/2 had almost all the rock already removed. So the rototillering went smoothly half the time. 

Above, I lightly ran the tiller over the grass stubble in order to cut the grass just below the soil surface. That should help kill what the vinegar didn't. When done, I could still make out my deeper tilled rows. 

In the rows I created I planted potatoes and sweet potatoes, only because I had plenty of them to spare. I didn't really care what crops got planted, as long as something did. The idea is to have something growing and to tend it. This alone will help get the soil ready for planting turmeric In the future. 

Above, almost finished. Still need to put in the rest of the yellow plant markers and apply mulch atop everything. But that's a job for the coming week. 

I also planted a few dozen pineapple crowns. There are areas that won't be suited to turmeric, but pineapples should do ok. These areas are close to trees and crisscrossed with big tree roots. I have dozens of pineapple tops from my recent harvest, so I had plenty to share. 

My neighbor now has a jumpstart on his garden project. If he's not interested in the potatoes and sweets, no problem. He can rip them out as he gradually derocks and fertilizes the area. But at least his garden is getting a headstart. With something growing other than tropical grasses, plus all that mulch, soil health should improve. By the way, I only saw one worm when I tilled. Egads, only one! I bet that by this time next year, there will be scads and scads of wigglers here. My neighbor is a big believer in digging in compost, chicken litter, and rabbit manure.....all good food sources for the worms. 

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