A Celebrity tomato plant stands ready to grow after being planted this past week.
A Celebrity tomato plant stands ready to grow after being planted this past week.

It is always one of our favorite weeks of the year…the planting of our garden!

Winter had a final stand last Sunday and Monday night with one last frost at the farm.  By Wednesday however, the temperatures quickly rose into the 70 and 80’s – and the threat of cold weather became a distant memory.  It was finally time to get the full garden planted!

It doesn’t take long for us to get the plants in with the raised row system, and with a few hours of work each evening on Thursday and Friday – the 2013 Garden Plan came to life.  All in all, over 140 plants went into the ground – including 40 tomato and peppers plants each, along with rows of cabbage and head lettuce transplants.  We also seeded in multiple rows of green beans, potatoes and onions to go with the early spring crops of radishes, sugar snap peas, lettuce, arugala and carrots already in the ground.  (You can see the entire garden plan at the bottom of the post)

All of the raised rows are planted - we will be heading out today to straw the walking rows.
All of the raised rows are planted – we will be heading out today to straw the walking rows.

We create all of the holes in each row with a post hole digger.  It allows us to quickly have a planting hole that is both deep and wide enough to easily plant in. Next – we add in a shovel full of compost to the hole – and mix back in the existing soil to plant the transplant.

Finally,  we add a thin layer of compost as a top dressing and mulch around each transplant, water them in – and move on to the next plant.

The strawberry plants are off to a good start
The strawberry plants are in and will even give us a small harvest this year.

One of our other goals this year was to get our strawberry and blueberry patches planted.

Over the last few weeks we had turned over and prepared the soil for the patch where the old chicken coop once stood. The soil is rich in nutrients from the chickens over the the last few years, and should provide years of good blueberry and strawberry harvests.

We chose a June bearing variety (Sparkle) for our strawberries. Ever-bearing varieties can provide berries throughout the season, but the June bearing will provide larger and more abundant harvests – which are perfect for canning and preserving.  For the blueberries, we chose three different varieties of bushes – allowing for better pollination and higher yields.

Bringing back pollen to the hive...if you look closely you can see the yellow pollen on the incoming bee
Bringing back pollen to the hive…if you look closely you can see the yellow pollen on the incoming bee
The bees have plenty of fresh blooms to choose from - here the wegelia at the front entrance
The bees have plenty of fresh blooms to choose from – here the wegelia at the front entrance
The chicks are now almost 13 weeks old, and have taken to sunning themselves outside of the coop.
The chicks are now almost 13 weeks old, and have taken to sunning themselves outside of the coop.

The honey bees and our new hive are off to a great start.  The queen has successfully found her way out of her cage, and the bees have begun to diligently bring in pollen at an amazing pace.  It is truly amazing to sit and watch them fly in, one after another, with their bodies and legs covered in the colorful yellow and purple pollen of the surrounding blooms.  It’s a great feeling to know that they are close by to help pollinate our crops – and even better to know that if all continues to go well, we can hope to have our first harvest of our own “local honey” this fall.

The new chicks are likewise off to a great start.  They seem to love their new coop – and have more than doubled in size since moving out  to the farm from the brooder from the house.  They will turn 13 weeks old this Monday – which means we are only 5 to 7 weeks away from them starting to lay.  Our new chicks are all Golden Comets, and most will begin to lay somewhere between weeks 18 and 20. We have been able to let them free range over the entire farm for the last few weeks – but with the garden, strawberry, and blueberry patch areas planted now – we will lay out some large fenced-in grazing areas to keep them from damaging any of the crops.

Here’s to a great start to the growing season!

Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary!

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The 2013 Garden Plan.
The 2013 Garden Plan.

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