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Cover Crop - Alfalfa

Cover Crop - Alfalfa

Cover cropping is an important part of soil and garden health.  Every few years, say 2-3 years it's a good idea to let a garden plot rest from all the veggies you've been planting on it.  Part of that rest period involves planting a cover crop in it that does several things.  First of all it competes with weed seeds and helps keep them at bay.  Second, if you plant a legume like alfalfa or cow peas the roots will actually add nitrogen, a valuable nutrient, BACK into the soil.  Normally your veggies scarf up all the nitrogen they can find.  Finally when it's time to replant your garden you can till in this cover crop and it will add organic matter to the soil.  If you do this faithfully along with a healthy spreading of manure once a season you will never have to use chemical fertilizers!

Gravely With Cultivator

Gravely With Cultivator

I'm preparing a garden bed for a cover crop.  It has been so rainy that this area has been perpetually wet but I thought I would use the Gravely Model Li with a front mounted cultivator to aerate the soil a bit and see if I could get it to dry out.  Normally this implement is used to remove weeds between rows of crops but I think it worked pretty well for me!

Mulching Potatoes

Mulching Potatoes

After you have hilled your potatoes up a few times and you don't have any soil left in your rows to DO any more hilling it's a good idea to mulch them.  If you can afford it buy a salt hay type mulch which has little to no weed seed in it.  Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch and again it is ok to nearly cover the leaves of the plant.  The mulch keeps weeds out and moisture in and also prevents sunlight from reaching any tubers that may come to the surface.  If sunlight hits your exposed potatoes they will turn green and become inedible!

Mulching Peas

Mulching Peas

Peas really like to have their "feet" cooled with a layer of mulch.  I'm using grass clippings here.  This mulch keeps the sun off the roots and also helps keep moisture in.  Happy plants mean more peas and I can't get enough of them!

Hilling Potatoes

Hilling Potatoes

It is very important to hill your potatoes as they grow.  This is done by pulling soil up and around the stem of the plant, almost covering it.  This encourages the plant to send out more tubers into this new soil you've pulled up which then increases your yield!  It seems like you're just burying the plant but in the end you'll be glad you did!

News Paper Weed Control

News Paper Weed Control

A great way to control weeds along a garden path is to lay down several layers of news paper and then add grass clippings or leaves or any other type of mulch down on top.  Ultimately this layer will break down but at least it gives you a headstart!  I put out the call for news papers at work and within a few days had more than enough!

Bees - Part 2

Bees - Part 2

I opened up my hive this weekend to look for my queen!  It took a little while but we found her!  It's very important in these first few weeks to make sure the queen is present and laying eggs.  It is a good sign of a healthy hive.  We found my queen but were unable to locate the queen in my friend's hive.  Sometimes it's just too hard to locate her.  I also added a 10 frame deep hive body to give my bees more room to grow!