Dom and I have already started planning this year’s garden and we’re so excited that spring is just around the corner! Pictured above is a photo I grabbed online of what we’ll be doing in the next month. This is a straw bale cold frame, although there’s no plastic or glass on top. We’ll only be planting a small kitchen garden in the front of the house this year, and because of the disaster (I’m still not over it lol) last spring, I won’t take any chances with our seedlings.
Last winter we turned our utility room into a makeshift greenhouse for growing seedlings. Everything was growing fantastic and healthy, and the time fast approached when we would begin to harden them off. It was early spring, the temperatures were good, so we brought everything outside for a while. As fate would have it, a brutally strong freezing cold wind came along and it only took moments to destroy all my beautiful healthy little seedlings. I was destroyed!
A few tomato plants actually did make it and gave us tomatoes all summer, but my spirit was crushed by such a great loss.
Anyway, this year we’ve decided that the wind can kiss my ass! Yes I’m getting sassy already and it’s not even spring yet. Living in the high desert brings the challenges of wind, unstable temperatures that can swing from extremely cold to very warm, and then there’s the intense rays of the sun. All these things can certainly be hard on a little seedling trying to grow.
We’ll be purchasing straw bales to create the temporary cold frames, allow the seedlings to grow, uncover them a bit during the day and then cover them back up. As they harden off and grow tall, we’ll then remove the bales to reveal the kitchen garden. In the fall, we’ll plant cool season crops in among the spring and summer garden plants, put the bales back in place and cover as the weather turns cold, making a cold frame throughout the fall, winter and early spring months.
We’re also getting ready for fruit tree inspections, spraying dormant/horticulture oil, and doing our first controlled tumble weed burn this weekend. That’s always fun AND scary all at once. If there’s any chance of a strong wind, we usually cancel any burning we’ve planned.
As usual, the land rests in winter just like us. We don’t do anything demanding to the earth, we just leave it be through winter. Everything is brown, tumbleweeds are everywhere piled high, and I love it!
Although burning the tumbleweeds does harm some of the beneficial microorganisms living in our soil, most of the soil where we’re burning is already just sand. Burning the tumbleweeds will raise the alkalinity more than it already is, but we’re not concerned with that. The areas where we’ll be burning will contain hugelkulturs, and with some ash and burnt thicker pieces of tumbleweeds at the base, the sequestered charcoal provides a home for certain microorganisms and fungi. That’s what we’re after…building new healthy soil from the ground up.
So, even though our property always looks like a red hot mess with all the tumbleweeds, there is a method to our madness. I’m sure the neighbors don’t look at it and think, “wow, what a great job they’ve done” but then again, they’re not in the process of turning their land into a permaculture love story. From the outside looking in, it just looks like “who did it and ran.” When our trees and clover awaken from their winter slumber, they will kiss the spring good morning and offer up the first blossoms of the year. Nothing is more beautiful or magical to me.
This year will be a soil building year. We won’t be planting a whole lot of trees or plants, but we will be propagating a LOT of fruit trees and berry bushes this year. One hundred fruit trees (maybe more) will be planted in spring 2014 in celebration of our ten year wedding anniversary. We have a lot of hugels to build in order to be ready for this massive undertaking.
Spring is almost here!
Are you getting excited or what?!