Ideal Work Conditions
We’re cruising into the final phase of what has been an ideal winter. There’s been enough snow to satisfy the kids, enough cold to test our mettle, and enough bouts of mild weather to give us a chance to work outside.
The seeds have arrived, and our potting mix was delivered last week—three tons from McEnroe Organic Farm in upstate NY. Mid-February is usually the time we start seeding onions in the greenhouse, but we suspect cold soil temperatures were partially responsible for the loss of last year’s first onion planting. So this year we’re pushing the start date back by three weeks. I think many new farmers and gardeners, eager to get a jumpstart on the season, test the limit of how early they can begin. But sometimes it just pays to wait.
The other day we began digging up the decomposed woodchips from the pathways in the herb garden. Every year we mulch the pathways for weed suppression, but by last spring things were starting to look a little upside down—instead of raised beds, we had raised pathways! Meanwhile, beneath the dried upper crust, the woodchips had broken down into a beautiful, rich compost. So we've been raking back the top layer and shoveling the pathway soil into the adjoining garden beds. No wheelbarrows necessary! The last step will be to apply a fresh layer of woodchips to the bare pathways. After that, we’ll be good for another 2-3 years.
The chickens are settled in their winter quarters, i.e. next to the flowerbeds and in the CSA snack plot. In another month or so, most of them will return to the fields, while some will remain by the Tin House. Last season, Judy and Donna struggled with a persistent infestation of chicken lice in the coop opposite the playground. By the end of the season, a decision had been made to build a new coop for a new site. The old coop has since been turned into a tool shed, the new coop is under construction, and multiple sites are being assessed.