Homestead Diary week of March 18th, 2016

I started the week by keeping an eye on the broccoli trays I seeded at the end of last week. On Monday morning I noticed radicals emerging from most of the seeds so I moved the trays from the upstairs table I use for germination down to the basement workbench and fired up the grow light. This way light is available as soon as the cotyledons emerge. Not technically necessary but I’m excited to use my new growlight.

I also calculated the materials needed to finish the bed construction. Last week I had done a total of 17 beds and thought I was about halfway done but in reality I will need 29 more beds to complete my desired layout. I may reduce that number as I don’t think my offsite garden will benefit from raised beds this year.

On Monday I broadforked a few beds. One long strip of beds will be planted in green beans later so I covered it in mulch. One I sowed some early lettuce. The soil’s still a bit cold but I figured I’d take a chance. In another section I got the beds I’ll be sowing peas in ready. Finally, I reinstalled 2 of the 3 sections of rabbit fence I removed when revamping the bed layout. I haven’t seen many rabbits at all but I still prefer to have one section of the garden protected from them.

Tuesday I wasn’t expecting to get much done because the weather sounded dreadful. We did a full homeschooling day but the rain still hadn’t arrived yet when we finished. Before it came I had time to build one more raised bed and broadfork the space for 5 beds. In the previous garden layout I had buried 12″ of soil on top of the stump of a Japanese yew stump I’d opted to cut below soil level instead of digging out. I’m not sure if these are popular outside of the Midwest, but they’re the scourge of modern gardeners. After being buried for 3 years, however, the root system had rotted away enough that I was able to pry up the stump (still weighing a good 20 pounds) when I hit it with the broadfork with minimal fuss.

I also had to play ‘transplant the strawberries’ again as my old plantings just don’t line up with the new, more efficient use of space. I’m discovering it’s much easier to broadfork before the beds are in position. A good percentage of the broccoli seedlings have unfurled their cotyledons. The Agrobrite T5 grow light seems to be putting out excellent light, since the plants aren’t stretching for the light at all.

Wednesday was very rainy in the morning. The main homestead event of the day was hearing back from the city about my compost bin. They are requiring me to cover up 3 sides of it with plywood instead of just hardware cloth. I don’t see how this makes it any more rat proof than it already is, nor do I think they actually think so. I think they’re hoping having the solid sides on the 3 most visible sides will just limit complaints about it being unsightly.

Thursday was a nice sunny day, which always makes even indoor tasks like homeschooling and cleaning more enjoyable. In between one of our school subjects I thinned the broccoli seedlings in one of the trays where Gamma had “helped” by planting 5+ seeds in each cell. We got outdoors later in the afternoon but because I was just reheating leftovers for dinner I had enough time to get a fair amount done. First I built the last three beds for the area inside the rabbit fence. Then I finished the last side of it. It needs a couple minor tweaks yet but it’s complete. Finally, I broadforked 50 feet worth of beds.

Today promises to be a rain-snow mix for a good part of the day so I probably won’t get much done, if at all, but looking back on the week I’m quite happy with the progress I’ve made this early in the year. I’m also really thankful that at some point today one of my new friends from the homesteading group I’m in is delivering eggs and sheets of OSB to modify my compost bin with. Otherwise I’d have to borrow or rent a truck to get the lumber but he was working in the area and offered to bring the stuff with his work truck.

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