Monday, April 6, 2009

I'll tell you why Mary was so contrary...

It's because the silly rain and snow kept getting in the way of her planting and ground preparation, the pigs turned the dirt into patches of cement, and the wind makes a joke out of every gardening book which advises to "build a small plastic covered tunnel" or "mulch with some straw"! No, I'm really not frustrated. Really. Well, not too much. It does get irritating that the weather is beautiful during the week when we have school to do and no husband to help work and then the weekends hold winter storm warnings. But, it is getting done. Slowly but surely.

So, the pigs. They do a beautiful job of rooting. They really do. But, if you leave them on the same ground too long, they make cement out of it. In areas, at least. They continue to root and dig (just try to stop them!), but in other areas, their manure & impaction make the ground so tough you need a pick ax to break it. We tried our neighbors rototiller and it just bounced right off the surface. It has been slowly getting better now that they are off the ground and we've had some moisture. You can work a fork into it (with enough weight on it) and then turn it over. We've had to basically take the top inch of soil (otherwise known as brick) and bury it, broken up, underneath the softer soil below it. We're hoping that, over time, it'll all be good. In the meantime, we may end up with some funky-looking carrots as they attempt to grow around the chunks of cement-like soil. It has made for slow going in the garden...the double-digging has taken at least 3 times as long as it should/could. There are a few beds that were recently rooted by the pigs and they are easy as pie.

And the wind. Oh, the wind. Do you know what it's like to live in a place where the 10-day forecast maybe holds 1 or 2 days without a "high wind alert"? Twenty to thirty mph is normal. We actually don't even consider it a really windy day unless it's about 50mph. And, it isn't unheard of to get 90+mph. That is the wind that picked up our heavy pig house and tossed it over the fence. And that is the wind that repeatedly threw the roof of our chicken coop, weighing at least 200 lbs, a good 100 feet or so last year. So when these gardening books describe building a little wire hoop and covering it with plastic to go over the row of bean seeds, I just laugh. That wouldn't last a day. And the mulch...straw would be in the next county in less than an hour. Living on the windy prairie, you have a whole new dimension of weather to work with.

But, all is not lost. We have 9 beds ready for planting...that's about one-fifth. We have put off the weekend's planting until tomorrow...the wind is supposed to be under 10 mph and it'll be 60 degrees. And, Don is taking 3 days off next week to get more beds dug and ready. May will hit hard, but so far, we are staying on top of things. Today, the kids and I replanted our peppers into bigger pots and started some herbs. Tomorrow, we'll take school outside and work until we drop, getting more beds dug, the fence finished, getting the cabbage (which looks awesome, by the way) into the ground and getting the peas planted. I'll try to remember to get the camera out there tomorrow and get some pictures.

I just keep thinking about the harvest...

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