Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Amended, Trenched, Fenced, and Planted: Plot on!

It was a pretty intense Memorial Day weekend. I felt like it needed to be an ante-up, all-in kind of weekend, no more dilly-dallying. My 100+ heirloom tomatoes needed a place to go. I don't think I could have picked a worse weekend in terms of weather 85 degrees, overly sunny, and dankly humid. My hair didn't dry all weekend, even after showering, and it didn't seem like I could drink enough water.

So the general plan for the weekend was trench on Friday, fence on Saturday, and plant on Sunday. The whole process ended up extending one extra day into Monday. I woke up early on Friday and secured my afternoon rental of the Ditch Witch from Alternative Rental and Service. The Ditch Witch is a terrifyingly looking machine with a two-foot long chainsaw-like blade. The blade is attached to another contraption, which allows it roll. The whole purpose is to cut a two-foot deep trench so that the fencing can be buried in order to keep out the four and two legged critters. My main concern being the groundhogs.

Mike "The Foreman" Birchler helped on Friday, which without his input, none of this would have gotten done. There were times when the Ditch Witch cut like room temperature butter, and you could literally daydream of all the future produce. And then there was the other 80% of the time, when we were cutting out part of the buried asphalt driveway, or hitting large metal pipes, or clogging the blade with bricks, or getting stuck in the dirt. There were some places that I just had to compromise and go less than the ideal two feet deep. Hopefully, groundhogs can't burrow through rock. I performed most of the trenching, but Birchler kept my lines straight, dug up the nuisance rocks/bricks/pipes, hauled the kicked up rocks/bricks/pipes, and was a good general support when I was hurling f-bombs at the Ditch Witch. I think we both got a few more hairs on our chest that day.

Saturday, the work posse started late (work posse being defined here as me and Brandon Scullion). The sun was out in full force, helping to re-burn Friday's sunburn. The task at hand was to put up the critter fence. 25 fence posts and four 50-foot lengths of fence. We thought no problem. Mike and I did all the hard stuff the day earlier. Or so we thought...

It turned out that everything about the fencing besides driving the posts was difficult. One of the least joyful tasks was latching the fence to the posts in the trench. Basically, you had to lay on your chest in the piercing-sharp rocks and dirt, while plunging your hands into the trench, hoping to see what you were doing. Then there were the edges of the fence that seemed engineered to cut flesh. I'm just glad Brandon and I are up to date on our tetanus shots. The last fencing chore was to simply backfill the dirt back into the trench. It hadn't rained overnight or anything, but that dirt settled, and what was allotted an hour for backfilling ended up taking us three more sweat-soaked hours.

Sunday was the fun day with a bigger group of volunteers than ever, including mainstay, Brandon, my old lady, Sarah, her yoga partner, also named Sarah, and Cosmic Marijana (who is a real person/artist, and not a pot reference). Ryan Kennedy came through for me again with another couple bails of straw, which were slated for Scandinavian-styled potato growing. Sunday, we managed to plant 10 pounds of yukon golds, 112 tomato plants, a handful of cukes and small squashes, and thirteen melons.

The tomatoes were laid out in seven rows of sixteen tomato plants. The first three rows comprised of four cultivars (Principe Borghese, Amish Paste, Jersey Giant, and Japanese Black Trifele) in an orderly fashion. For the next four rows, order was thrown out the window, and the 20+ cultivars were planted randomly. I guarantee I will have the most psychedelic tomato patch in all of Cleveland with reds, purples, yellows, whites, and stripes. August looks to look amazing. The melons were put on 4-mil black plastic to absorb as much heat as possible. I can't wait to see how they prosper in the full sun of Old Husher's Farm.

On Monday, Brandon and I finished the plantings with four rows of corn, a row of onion and basil, blue pumpkins, and beets galore. Now we just had to name the plot itself for the sake of reference. My crew and I threw around a lot of names; some of them were generic like Plot A; others were whimsical; but eventually I settled with the obvious no-brainer, "the Old Plot." The Old Plot being the first is subsequently the oldest (duh). That evening I treated the crew to a seven pound pulled pork shoulder on the grill. I went all out for them, and besides the shoulder I grilled a cabbage stuffed with bacon and bbq sauce. There were three homemade bbq sauces on hand (North Carolina vinegar, South Carolina mustard vinegar, and classic bbq), as well as some Texas Pete's if people needed some kick. Thanks yall.

As for the soil amendments, I just want to state for the record in digital print (so that I can personally forget) the amending. We added 28 32-gallon garbage cans of leaf humus, an approximate literal ton of coffee grinds from Loop, 46 pounds of sulfur to drop the pH to a slightly acidic level, and 35 pounds of rock phosphate. I'm avoiding green sand, lime, and ash because my potassium levels are extremely high.

Looking ahead into the near future, I intend to plant my raspberry patch and paw paw orchard within the next week. Subsequent major watering will follow. And then onto new plot development.

1 comment:

  1. bricks, pipes and giant slabs of concrete! now that's urban farming. nice post