Farm update: The tomatoes and peppers are back out to the greenhouse, and the living room has been reclaimed, once more, for human habitation. The birds are enjoying the increasingly greening grass and growing bug populations. Snakes continue to spur all manor of entertainment, as did a clutch of very baby rabbits. Lolita’s hive is more active everyday, no doubt enjoying the onset of the dandelions and other early nectar flow. We had a wonderfully productive work party descend on the farm this weekend like a troop of superheroes. Cobbing in the greenhouse is off to a good start. After several slightly different recipe ratios, we’ve finally nailed down just the right proportion of clay – sand – straw for a good, solid cob wall. And the asparagus we planted last year from seed have started shoving up. Peas, radishes, turnips, parsley, spinach are now all in beds in the back field. And we’ve just begun harvest of radishes and arugula from the greenhouse.
There must have been a right quick ladybug hatch after the snow cleared. There were several who found us and cheered us on while we flexed our forearms in fisticuffs with the quackgrass this weekend. One significant downside to the no-till sod-flipping technique has been the weed resurgence, especially with the quackgrass which dominates the back field (here is a description of our no-till bed prep method from last year). Quackgrass is a natty-rooted, rhizome-spreading grass. It does a fantastic job of growing quickly, protecting soil from erosion, building soil structure. It’s especially hardy and drought tolerant. But it’s troublesome in our beds. A conventional way of dealing with this weed is to till up the soil. A lot. And/or spray it with glyphosupertoxicate.
In order to help preserve soil health, we will use other methods to try to manage this. Currently, we are hand hoeing or digging out the quackgrass, trying to preserve root integrity, removing the rootmass (as best we can), and mulching heavily in rows where we will direct seed crops. Rows that will be transplanted into, we will blanket in thick newspaper, followed by straw mulch. This struggle will be ongoing. If you have ideas or experience to share, please let us know. Ultimately, we will need to establish a good mulch/covercrop in the walkways between beds as well. Otherwise, we don’t stand a chance – the rhizomes can grow up to 1″/day which gives our freshly weeded vegetable beds (30″ beds surrounded by walkway rows of quackgrass) approximately 2 weeks of liberty from the clutches of quackgrass.
And finally, heaps of thank yous to our incredible friends, Avery, Craig, and Iggy, who came by the farm this weekend and set immediately to work. In just a weekend of focused energy and merry camaraderie, we were able, together, to tackle several tasks from our ever-growing better-get-this-done-in-a-hurry list… and still make time for siesta.
The best bits of the weekend include lots of muddy hands building a cob wall; good friends who work tirelessly …and joyfully; having hot coffee delivered to us during early morning weeding; an ever so inviting pathway through the new herb garden; call and response worksongs, little ditties featuring our favorite good farm dogs; rain tapping on the greenhouse roof during a fancy feast of roasted homegrown chicken and happy birthday ginger peach pie. Many thanks to you, we are feeling super lucky – pert near blessed – to have such generous, inspiring, and insightful friends.
Check out our new herb bed walkway, brick work by master rock artisan, Craig:
And here’s a shot of Cycle Farm’s new fancy fine dining locale: