2 acre farm: March 2010

2 acre farm

The experiences, trials, and lives on a small farm in rural Illinois.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Onions Galore

Back in January I sowed a couple hundred onions in flats that I wrote about here and here. A few weeks ago I moved these guys to the cold frames. They are have been progressing well and growing a long. I just noticed about a week ago that some of them had started rooting out of the flats and into the ground in the cold frame. This rooting out of bounds made me decide that they are ready for the garden. After tilling twice and getting things all prepared I set them out.
Out of the two flats which were unscientifically seeded the same I wound up with one row of 'Mustang' and a row and three-quarters of 'Redwing'. As you can see the red onions germinated much better and they also seem to be much more prolific. Next year I will try a different variety for a yellow or white because 'Mustang' is not impressing me especially since it is a F1 hybrid.
When I put out the transplants I also planted out some four hundred sets I bought for early green onions or scallions. I also direct sowed the remaining 'Mustang' and 'Redwing' seed for a later crop of green onions. All in all I have something like 2500 onions if the direct sown seed germinates well. About three-quarters of that are for green onions.
I also have a flat of Evergreen Bunching onions that are perennial. These are strictly for green onions in years to come. They are still hanging out in the cold frame because the location they are going into needs to be 100% weed free. I do not want to be pulling up missed grass and dandelions in this perennial onion patch if I can help it. My plan is to get it weed free and control weeds with generous mulch and light cultivation in late fall. So I will probably try and wait to plant these out until May unless they too start growing out of their flats, which they haven't yet.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wintered Over

Last fall I plated some spinach and garlic for the following season. The spinach was planted in late August and the garlic in October. After I planted the spinach I was able to harvest it a bit last year but my main goal was being able to harvest it early this spring. The garlic was planted strictly to get large bulbs at harvest this summer.

The spinach unfortunately was not well taken care of because I forgot to tuck it in with mulch last year. I guess this was probably because I was too busy harvesting it and lost my focus. Since I did not mulch it in it is a wonder any of it survived but some did. The problem is that it came back weedy and spotty. There are a few spots where there are gaps in the row several feet wide and as the picture shows there are plenty of weeds, especially dandelions. I guess the lesson here is to weed and mulch the fall spinach this year and hope for better success next spring. At least though I got to see that spinach is quite hardy considering we had a pretty cold winter this year. The variety is the old standard 'Bloomsdale' which is the only spinach I plant. I think next year or for this years fall planting I may try some different varieties along side 'Bloomsdale' just for kicks.

The garlic on the other hand was well tended to. Immediately after planting it was mulched with about six to eight inches of shredded leaves. Despite all the leaf cover it kept growing all winter even with the ground froze solid. About a week ago I pulled the leaves off of it and left them to rot in the path. After doing this the garlic greened up and began growing almost over night. I can't wait to harvest this garlic. The variety it 'music' which seems to be a pretty popular and hardy hard neck variety. Here is the post from last fall when I planted the garlic, Finally Planted The Garlic .

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Whats Up?

Over the past few weeks I have been busy on the two acre farm. Tilling, spreading manure, mulching, seeding, and planting. Now things have come to a lull for a bit so I plan to post a series of posts about what is up and growing at the moment.

One of the biggest chores I have been working on has been preparing and planting the strawberry beds. They are located in a shallow valley between two hills and partially on a hill. It is kind of hard to describe or show in picture but basically what it boils down to is a need for erosion control. What I did was make two identical beds nine foot wide by forty foot long. I removed the top six inches of topsoil down the middle three feet wide and piled it on both sides to create berms or as I like to think of them water speed bumps.

I then planted my strawberry plants on the inside edge of the berms. This created to rows of plants three feet apart. The plants are about eighteen inches apart. I plan to train the runners both into the center and onto the berms. Then I will have five rows to pick next summer. This will also be the beginning of a perennial strawberry patch where I will till under the oldest plants every other year and keep training the runners back and forth.

The varieties I am growing are Oso Grande which is a commercial variety bred in California. The hardiness is questionable since there is very little information on this berry. The good news is that it is supposed to be extremely productive, have large berries, and the flavor is supposed to be superb. I am a little nervous about this one because commercial standards on flavor are subpar and the questionable hardiness but I got forty plants for less than ten dollars. The other variety is Whopper which I believe was Dutch bred. It is suppose to make extremely large flavorful berries. Gurney’s, where I ordered the plants from, claims they make berries as large as peaches. I think that last sentence says enough about why I ordered this one. They are also supposed to be extremely hardy.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Clearing the Way

It is that time of year when it seems like spring is coming too fast. Just a month ago it was as if it would never arrive and now I need produce for market in eight weeks. The pressure is on and I am going at it.
I have spent the last two days clearing a spot for a fresh garden. I have battled sumac trees and honey locust. Euonymus and blackberries abound but I think I have won. Fortunately for me I am blessed with a wonderful sandy loam and am able to pull one inch diameter saplings up by their roots as if they were mere weeds. I am certain though that some will come back to haunt me especially the blackberries and euonymus but I think I got the majority of the roots. I burned all the debris since most of it is invasive species and I dont need any of it surviving. A bit of flame weeding will finish off the euonymus and then it will be time to till it all under. Hopefully the ground thaws and dries before the rain comes so I can get it all rotting before I need to plant.
This garden is on the back side of what Aimee dubbed “Fox Hill”. There will be another on the front side/top also. The last picture is the front side and you can see the ‘pond’ down the hill to the left. The first two pictures show the area cleared on the backside. I will follow this up with some pictures of the progress once some seedlings are up and growing to put it all in perspective. Right now I think the pictures are a bit disorienting but thats what I am up to on the Two Acre Farm.

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