Red Wicket Market Farm is a small farm 25 minutes from downtown Columbus, Ohio, near Slate Run Metropark. Breeding Black Copper and Blue Copper Marans to the Standard of Perfection.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tomatoes in the Dirt, and Strawberry Under My Fingernails

What a couple of weeks it's been! I've been working outside from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm or so, then coming inside and trying to keep up with the inside chores (and failing miserably). Happily, however, I'm nearing the home stretch--at least for the planting.

Although it probably seems really late to everyone, this is right on schedule for my garden. Our soil is really wet, and it takes weeks to dry out enough to till after a rain. My neighbors laugh at me, but I am determined to only till when the soil moisture is juuuuust right. If I give in and till when it's too wet, I'll be fighting rock-hard clumps of clay for the next several years. I am a firm believer in "take care of the soil, and the soil will take care of you."

After being plowed with our old tractor and moldboard plow, the garden needed to stay untouched for a week to dry. Then Mike tilled the whole thing using a garden tiller. I could not have done it, and I'm still not sure how he managed to do it without using a disk harrow first, but just using the tiller was much better for the soil than running the tractor over it all again. Then he helped me turn the compost piles and wheel all the finished compost into the garden and till it in again. Finally, I spent this week putting in all the plants I started in the basement and sowing seeds.

Doesn't look like much yet, does it? I always find the first couple of weeks after planting a bit dispiriting until the tomatoes take off and the first seeds germinate. For the record, you're looking at 63 tomato plants, 19 pepper plants, seven winter squash plants, a cantaloupe plant, nine basil plants and two parsley plants. I also planted two kinds of pumpkins, two kinds of cucumber, three kinds of summer squash, and two kinds of watermelon. I have yet to plant edamame, dill, sunflowers, green beans, and sweet potatoes.

The other big chore I have this time of year is keeping up with the strawberry beds. We have two 12' square strawberry beds, and they are very happy this year.

If you've never grown fruit before, strawberries are the way to go. They are very easy. Strawberries have very few pests and are subject to very few diseases, and require minimal work. Just plant them early, around the first week of April, and keep them well weeded and watered. If you chose everbearing strawberries, you'll get your first fruits around July.

This is my second harvest this year already, and I didn't get them all this time. I only finished about 1 1/3 beds before I decided I was done for the day. Now I need to wash them, hull them, and freeze the ones we won't use right away.

Of course, I'll be lucky if ANY make it to the freezer. :)