Taking Care of My Spring Chores
The rain has barely given us a break the last couple of weeks, so I’m having trouble getting out in the garden to do my spring clean up duties. Our soil is heavy clay and will turn into a brick if I mess with it while it’s wet. I did manage to get out to the garden today to put down some cardboard walking paths. They certainly won’t win me any ‘prettiest garden’ awards, but the weeding will be more manageable.
I was pretty excited about the idea of using my ugly old garden shed for storing my tools and gardening supplies this year. Then I ordered meat chicks and ducks and they will have to go in the shed for the last couple weeks before I butcher them in June. In addition, I just moved the little brown rooster to that shed to separate him from Big White. I don’t want them killing each other! I also moved a little black hen that gets picked on a lot to the shed to keep the injured rooster company. They are getting along wonderfully. But I definitely need to move the rest of my garden tools out very soon.
My garden is a series of permanent beds divided by my cardboard walking paths. Each year the crops are rotated to prevent disease organisms from building up in the soil. I hand turn the soil for my annual vegetables in the spring and weed the no-till beds dedicated to perennial vegetables, herbs, and fruits. I have asparagus, Egyptian walking onions, rhubarb, and horseradish, strawberries, currants, sage, oregano, chives, and thyme. I always find some extra space in these beds for annuals such as calendula, basil lettuce, cilantro, and peas. In fact, the peas and beans add nitrogen to the soil and help the perennials thrive.
I spent some time planning out my beds and pulling up some old weeds and vines wherever I could. So far I have my Egyptian walking onions planted out in a row (and another bunch ready to go in) and peas, lettuce, and spinach planted too. I have onions, leeks, cabbage, and broccoli started under lights. But there is still so much to do!
In the next week I need to start my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy under lights. As weather allows I will prep my garden beds, clean the strawberry patch, move the chicken pen to a new area, plant out my onion sets and a Catawba grape vine I picked up the other day, transplant a few herbs and perennials, and plant another row of greens. I’d also like to thin out some of the strawberry plants and fertilize them when the weather warms up a bit.
I ordered 30 meat chicks and 20 white Pekin ducklings and they are due to arrive this week. The brooder room is set up and ready for them. I’m looking forward to watching the babies grow, even though I know I’ll be butchering them in less than 2 months. I’d like to keep a few of the ducks for their eggs and to hatch out ducklings next spring. Raising more of my poultry from breeding stock is one of my goals for the next few years. I hate to order chicks from the hatchery and have some of them die in transit. It seems that there are always a few that don’t survive the journey and their first few days of life.
I have compost to spread around and swimming holes to construct for the ducks. I’d also like to set up rain barrels at each of our downspouts on the house and barn. The fun really never ends on a homestead!
What chores do you want to check off your list this week?
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