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Archive for July, 2018

garden june 2018

One-tenth acre each of buckwheat, Country Gentleman corn, and Waltham butternut squash.  This was a few weeks ago, before the weather turned dry (it was already hot).  Buckwheat is part of our fertility management system; today there are eighty hens penned on that patch, tramping down the plants, manuring, harvesting seed.  We’ll come behind in a couple of weeks with a thick sowing of oats or wheat — winter pasture for chickens in tractors, grown-in-place mulch for potatoes — the first crop in our five-stage rotation:  potatoes, corn, winter squash, mangel-wurzels, then back to buckwheat (or variations on that theme).

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long paddocks

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Long, narrow paddocks mean the cows trample as much as they eat, a good idea when there is so much forage.

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onion harvest

 

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We eat a lot of onions.

When most of the onions have fallen over, we knock the others down and let them dry a couple of days, then pull them and leave them on the bed to dry two or three days longer.  Then we put them on wire racks in the wood shed or summer kitchen until the necks are completely dry, after which they are braided and hung up in the summer kitchen until frost threatens.  It never does to forget them, lest the first hard freeze find them still outside.

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When the lower flowers on our buckwheat turn brown, signaling that its earliest seeds are ripe, we put the chickens on that patch, either in tractors — sliding pens —  or behind netting.  With tractors, we knock down a section of buckwheat each day when the pen is moved.  This gives the chickens forage, seeds, and litter all in one go, but only knocks down the buckwheat in gradual stages.  If we are going to pen the birds on the whole patch at once, we put poly-netting around it, park one or two coops or tractors inside for nighttime shelter, and turn the birds in.  They like the shade under the tall plants, and scratch around in the cool, damp soil, adding their own shot of nitrogen, which the growing plants take up and store.  Later, while the chickens are still there, we’ll mow what’s left of the buckwheat and let the chickens forage and aerate the litter.

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