Spring chores

Until today’s ice storm, spirits were high and we were getting a lot moving at Draco Hill. So in the hope that Spring will return any day, we’re posting our work from the weekend. making compost

First it was time to get busy rebuilding the compost pile. The art of composting has eluded us. The math is 3:1, browns to greens and yet our compost usually just sits there. Not enough green, right? But I’d rather have that than slime, which is what we get at the bottom of our food compost bin, too much green.

But this year we saw some progress. We uncovered our food bin from the winter and we had either soil-like stuff at the bottom, or uncomposted food near the top. We transported it to our larger composting effort near the gardens. There we found a pile that looked a lot like it did last fall, but we took off the layers of dry grass and found lots of good stuff underneath! We excavated the good stuff and built the pile back up using the kitchen scraps and bags of oak leaves from a suburban neighbor of a friend of ours. (“Mind if we rake your leaves?” has to be one of the more pleasant questions a suburban homeowner hears in the spring…)

Paul used a few bags of oak leaves to fill his potato box as well. This box hasn’t worked right yet, and yes, we’re blaming it on the box even though Paul plants the potatoes in there and the forgets them until October and wonders what happened. So here we go again, and maybe one of us will remember to check the thing before everything goes all ashes to ashes on us. paul and potato box

Other work included pruning the fruit trees. Judging from all of the pruning workshops we’ve been to, I really must work on my too-soft touch. Paul’s ruthless method seems to be more in vogue, though I’ve also learned that being ruthless means less fruit production that year, which might explain the two plums and one peach we’ve gotten in the last two years…

We’ve also been

  • starting tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, ground cherries and even some stevia.
  • rooted some austree willows and stuck other cuttings straight in the ground.
  • pruned the black raspberries in the garden and stuck cuttings in the ground as well.
  • are keeping alive some basket willows from our neighbor to plant in the lower, soggier areas of the property.

On the garden beds we’ve got winter rye that has died back and we’ve frost seeded some clover to help with weed control in one. We considered sorghum sudan grass but after talking to the seed dealer decided just to try that in the prairie where some Canada thistle is starting to take over, and use cow peas in the garden for weed and feed instead.

We’re still open for WWOOF and other volunteers who’d like to learn more about orchards, organic gardening, guineas, worms and whatever else we’re figuring out as we go! So contact us if you’re interested!