Thursday, December 4, 2008

MMMM Cow manure

It's reached that time of the year that I have to spread the poop. It's amazing how much you can get this time of year. There is a dairy farm a few miles down the road and they deliver 4.5 yards of manure for $75. I like my poop delivered right to my door. The guy was super nice. I actually stood out in the yard in the cold and dark and talked to him for a good 15 minutes. The poor guy, his family has been doing this for over 75 years and it just keeps getting harder and harder. What they get paid for 100 gallons of milk is a crime. One thing he did tell me is that the milk from Cumberland Farms or any other grocery store and Garelick all come from the same milk farms. There is one large Coop here in Ma. All the milk goes there and then is sold to various places, so don't pay more for Garelick, its the same as Joe's.

So today I went out and started to attack the mountain of poop. The little Princess came out in her pretty pink boots and helped me do some of it. The little Man wanted nothing to do with it. Toby(our lab) just wanted to eat it. I think that I got about 1/3 of it done, but that may be wishful thinking. My back started to ache and I have blisters on my hands. Pretty pathetic for only 30 minutes work. I really need to get the rest done in the next few days. The garden ought to be in pretty good shape for next year when I'm done. There is quite a bit of compost finishing up as well. That will get put in the holes when I put things out. I never seem to get enough compost. It's even worse this year since we had to cut down 4 trees on the property. The leaves really help out a lot as well.

The seed catalogs started coming the other day. It always gets me going. This year was overwhelming for me with the garden. I expanded so much that it made it hard for me to keep up with it. It also rained so much, that it was hard for me to get out and do what needed to be done. Then I would get overwhelmed with the size. The kicker was that I really didn't design it well. Next year it will be divided into sloped beds about 4x10. There will be walkways in between that will be covered with cardboard. This will make it easier for me to intensively plant, like I was used to. It will also make weeding easier and more compact.

When I started gardening I used a modified square foot plan. I had multiple 4x4 beds that were separated by paving bricks. I could go out and week 1 or 2 squares easily without getting overwhelmed. I also had very definite borders to grow things in. This will be the basis for next years garden as well. I will still have a much larger area, but it will hopefully be more manageable. It is now going to be well fertilized and looser soil as well. I'm always hopeful that we'll have a huge harvest. Of course, in September when I've canned up the 75th jar of tomatoes, I'll be cursing it all.

Its all a cycle and I love that cycle. I love planning all the wonderful things we'll have in the garden. I love planting the seeds in the winter and carefully keeping them growing in the basement. I love planting out the seedlings and seeds and watching them grow and grow. I love the anticipation of that first tomato. I love feeding my family food that I have grown and prepared and that I am absolutely certain is healthy. I love going to my basement in December and getting a jar of tomatoes and some carrots that have been preserved that summer. I love it all. Even when I'm exhausted and don't want to deal with it. I still love it. If you're going to have an addiction this is the one to have.

Next years plans will of course involve some expansion. I plan to plant at least 2 more fruit trees, probably apples. There is also the 6x6 area next to the garden with the broken down sod to deal with. That will probably be prepped and become either a strawberry patch, or my onion and garlic area. The back, where the trees came down has plans as well. Jose(my neighbor) has talked about building us a chicken coop. I'd really like a chicken tractor, but we'll figure it out. If we end up with a permanent coop, then it will go back there. If not, I'll plant some blueberry bushes back there to surround the whole area. The bushes I planted this year all died. They got way too much sun and couldn't handle it. Back there they will get partial sun and lots of water, so they should thrive. Of course, I have to clean the mess up back there first. My last area will be in the back between the houses, I want to plant an asparagus patch. Jose likes that idea as well, so we'll have to get some crowns planted.

Next year will also be the first year for the cold frames. Jose spent last summer making us some cold frames to split from windows they had just replaced. They will go around the perimeter of my garden. He just doesn't have the space on his side. I also get much better sun. There are 4 total. I think they are 2x6 ft. The plan is to plant them next summer to feed us next winter. We've been reading too much Elliot Coleman. I would love to someday be almost completely self sufficient in the fruit and vegetable arena. If we add in the eggs and meat from chickens, we're really be doing well!

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