The pregnant goats are getting huge! We are on full alert. Hoping at any moment to have baby goats.

I had the week off to coincide with many things going on at the farm. We have been blessed with beautiful sunshine but secretly wish we could get in a good soaking rain as we have been watering and watering and watering. We were able to get in the vegetable garden in three days.

We planted all the regulars like peas and beans, carrots, swiss chard, kale, sweet corn, tomatoes and spinach, but we also planted leeks, basil, perennial chives, shallots from seed (our first try at the this), horseradish, radishes, cilantro and several different mixes of greens.

As you can notice in this photo…

there are several rows of black plastic. We need to heat up the soil to 70 degrees to be able to plant the heat loving items like summer squash, water melon, cantaloupe, and even pumpkins.

This is just the first wave of planting as we had a goal starting out this year of getting better at succession planting. Everything that we plan to succession plant has been labeled on the garden stake with the date of planting.

Here’s the garden…tomatoes to the left!

Our favorite weather website, called websterweatherlive.com, has many helpful farming items including soil temperature at different depths and even soil moisture content. We’ve been watching the soil temperature steadily rise with the beautiful weather this week. The location of the weather station is right down the road from us so it gives us accurate information.

We’ve made decisions on what part of the garden will go fallow this year. Every part of the garden that gets a rest will be planted with buckwheat. The buckwheat will come up strong and smother any weeds all summer and create big thick root masses that will be plowed under in the fall and create an immense amount of organic matter and reduce some of the need for compost.

I planted a few more grapevines to try out some new varieties and to increase my stock of Swenson Red…

by far my favorite table grape.

As I dig the hole, I pile up the dirt in separate piles from the different depths…

As I begin to plant, I can put in the sod first way deep into the hole (with some compost of course). It is deep enough in the ground that it won’t grow, but it is rich in organic matter and has the richest soil for the new roots that will soon grow. I reverse order the remaining dirt and finish with a 2” layer of compost and a heavy wood chip mulch to suppress weeds and to keep in moisture.

Finished hole with small dormant vine sticking out ready to grow

My wife Carolyn took a brick oven building class for three days. A neighbor right up the road was having it built and offered classes to help defray the cost. This will be the type of oven that can retain 500-700 degrees for an entire day with one firing. It will have immense mass that retains the heat. Perfect for pizza and bread. Here are some pictures…

The oven was still not completed after three days. The homeowner will have to finish it up on her own. I will update with a picture in a few months when it is completed.

A sidenote: Carolyn was given some goose eggs from someone at the class. Just to show how big they are she put them in a box next to one of our biggest chicken eggs we have!

We have begun to experience pest pressure on our fruit trees. We are keeping our orchard organic, so we have begun our spray program. The first pest was tent caterpillars which we simply torch out with a propane torch right before nightfall when they are all in their “tent”.

Pictured here…

is a leafroller caterpillar rolled up in a leaf. They literally roll themselves up in a leaf and then eat their way out. A tree can have hundreds of these and they can lose most of their leaves if left untreated.

I unfurled this leaf…

to show you the tiny caterpillar inside. We spray with an organic certified chemical called BT. It gives the leafroller a fatal stomach ache.

More to come in further posts about keeping an organic orchard.

Here are a couple of pictures to complete the post.

Carolyn digging holes for some blueberry plants given to us by a local blueberry farm…

Our asparagus patch with recent weeding, landscape fabric between the rows, heavy mulching and a layer of compost in the rows…

Our cherries are well on their way!

Up next: planting strawberries, raspberries and our new baby goats!

Until next time…

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