Working the field

The past few weeks I have been busy in my field, trying to break ground, remove the tall branchy weeds and turn the dirt so the roots and weed debris can nourish the ground over the winter.  I have been doing it all by hand because it gives me a good feel or the type of soil I have by its consistency and the types of weeds growing (it varies), I love the physical labor and it gives me a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.  But, winter is coming and now that I am physically in the field and can sense how much space I am dealing with, I will get a rototiller in there to help me break more plots for our gardens.  I don’t get have a tractor, so we are making do with what we have.

I am going to have a number of ‘plots’ of approximately the same size so I can separate my veggies.  My field isn’t perfectly square, so there is some adjustment to make as we work around curves and a corner of heavy brush.  Having my veggies separate will help keep things better organized, make rotations easier, and help with better record keeping (I think).  I’m not sure what a great size is or exactly how much I will be growing, but each plot is bigger than any garden I’ve ever had so I should have enough space for my first year gardening on this scale.  For items like tomatoes, I will use more than one plot – or work two-three very large plots so I can do a 3-year rotation through the plots and keep the same size area to work in.  Not sure yet.  I only have two plots complete so far, and am working on the 3rd and 4th currently.

I am laying all the tall weeds in one direction outlining my plots.  I figure they will eventually compost themselves or next spring I can use them as mulch.  That is easier than carting them off to a compost pile, and it gives the plots a perimeter so I can visually see their size.

Over the winter I will be dumping our rabbit bedding on the soil, and our chicken bedding for the first half of winter.  Chicken manure can burn tender plants if it hasn’t aged long enough, so just to be sure I will stop laying chicken bedding on the field sometime mid-winter.  Rabbit poo can go on any time without aging, so that will go out all winter long.  Come spring we will rototill it all in again, then till once more before I plant my seedlings.  I am working out plans to build a seed starting room in my basement because I will need lots of space for all of our tomato, herb, celery, and other seedlings that need to be started indoors. I will share more about that once we figure out what we are doing.  If any of you have an indoor greenhouse, I’d love to hear how you did it!

Here is the work I’ve done so far using just a shovel.   The first plot is dedicated to raspberry bushes that I moved up from our woods.  I wanted them closer to the house so I could trellis them and cover them if need be so the birds don’t get to all of them.

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