Spring Chores on the Homestead

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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.

 

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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.

 

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The strawberry patch needs a clean up and some compost.

 

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!

 

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The chicken pen needs to be rotated to prevent build up of pathogens.

 

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.Β  The fun really never ends on a homestead!

What chores do you want to check off your list this week?
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9 comments on “Spring Chores on the Homestead

  1. Kathy

    I have raised beds. I like them because when everyone is still fighting with wet soggy garden soil I am planting. Also a late frost does not hurt them because they are higher then the ground. There isn’t much to weed either. I use square foot gardening.
    My list:
    1. Landscape front 1/2 acre
    2. Take down old fence
    3. Clean the barn (again)
    4. Transplant the rhubarb and artichokes
    5. Build one more raised bed
    6. Build woodshed (really my hubby’s job)
    7. spray fruit trees
    I am sure I’ll think of a few more things πŸ™‚

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Kathy,
      My original idea was to build up my beds so they are raised, although probably not with retaining walls. As I have compost this will happen, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough to raise my beds the way I’d like. I don’t want to spend a ton of money bringing compost or soil in, since we are hoping to move in about 5 years. But maybe someday I’ll have some. πŸ™‚ And you are correct, they drain so nicely and help protect against the frost!

      Best wishes with your list! It looks like you’ll be busy this spring!

      Reply
  2. Jenny

    We just cleaned up this week. We have eight raised beds and about 11 or so 5×50 “berms”. We put away all the floating row covers and stuff we accumulated to hold them in place, and then mowed in between the beds. We use the wide rows, narrow paths method outlined in the Vegetable Gardners Bible so we have grass in between. Not sure yet how we’ll be taking care of it in the future. We’re still settling into a rhythm.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Jenny,
      My neighbor does something similar, but he has issues with creeping weeds getting in the beds. I thought about it, but with all the ground ivy in my yard, I decided to line my paths with lovely cardboard…great for photo ops. πŸ™‚

      Let me know how you like your system. Maybe my next garden will work better with mowed paths.

      Reply
  3. Rachel E.

    Your to do list sounds similar to mine. I still have a lot of gardening to do. I’m still waiting for my strawberry plants to establish themselves before I weed…I don’t want to pull out the wrong thing. πŸ™‚

    Our meat birds and ducks are in brooders in our garage now, but in a few weeks, we may move them out to the coop. It will be warm enough.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Rachel,
      I hear you about pulling the wrong thing! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yanked out a little strawberry plant during a frenzy of weeding. πŸ˜‰ Not that I have many weeding frenzies around here!

      How old are your little chicks and ducks? Is this your first year raising the meat birds? Seems like we talked about this recently…forgive my poor memory!

      Reply
  4. Meredith/GreenCircleGrove

    I need to move the nesting boxes in the chicken coop, add another roost, and do some spring cleaning. Early greens and lettuces need to be planted in the garden, too; I’m skipping peas this year. I have been wondering about your shipment of little ones that was stranded last week, too.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Meredith,
      When they still hadn’t shown up on Friday, I called the hatchery. They hadn’t even sent them. I was so relieved that I forgot to be upset with them until I was off the phone and had time to stew a bit. πŸ™‚ It’s just as well, but I wish they would have called me so I would know the shipping had been delayed a week. The chicks arrived yesterday in fine shape with 2 extras in the box. I’m still waiting for the ducklings and will call them shortly to see if they shipped this week. Thanks for checking!

      Best wishes with your spring clean up and ‘coop arranging!’ Have a great weekend!

      Reply

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