Greetings, Friends –
We are well into the Aries Fire on this second day of April. The Pisces Water slipped right through my fingers. March was full!
As I looked at the to-do list for March, it seemed a bit unlikely that it would all unfold as desired. Steve was leaving mid-March and I would head out at the end of March for Homer, Alaska. This created a condensed springtime work window to prepare for my very first flower farming season.
Most of my tasks hinged on the arrival of a new 42″ rototiller. And Mother Nature’s activities are more than just variables, yes? Steve was hoping to get the new shop insulated and vapor-barriered before leaving and I was vying for a bit of his time and person-power, too. Taking you to the exciting conclusion (If you’re intimately familiar with the movie When Harry Met Sally, here you can visualize Billy Crystal flipping to the back of his book): we got 92% of it completed!!! The unfolding and orchestration of the weather windows, the coincidental mentioning of neighbor Hank that he had a 3-pt hitch rototiller available for loan, the support of Grammy & Pops with child care, the physical support of Pops, David, and Mary with tractor and planting time, and ongoing Nature Spirit guidance made the completion of the March tasks nothing less than magical. I still well up thinking about it.
There are two main areas in which I’m focusing my growing efforts this year: 1. The Garden [Virginia] and 2. Two new 40’x120′ flower beds in the metal yard [Walter & Carmen].
Metal Yard Phase I, II, & III: Clean Me Up, Scotty! Plow & Till Me!! Cover Crop Me!!!
In addition to hosting treasures and troves of farm equipment and miscellaneous other, the metal yard used to be the orchard. As an incentive to clean up the space and reclaim/repurpose found objects for Steve’s handiwork, we thought it would be a great place to begin our farming experiments (the W&V White Farm was supportive of this idea). An overview of March steps (“Contemplated, reviewed, revisited guidance, contemplated some more, went outside to ground truth then adjusted plan on paper” could be woven in, around, under & through all of these steps):
- Measured & marked out beds
- Spread Manure
- Plowed 2x, unearthing more metal
- Rototilled & Harrowed (Thank you, Uncle David!!!)
- And hopefully in April, white clover & oat seed will be spread on these beds that will stay through the season. The idea is to start competing with the weeds and prepping the soil for flower planting in 2019.
The Garden: First Year Flower-Farming Experimentation
We utilized a circular garden plan last summer (our first growing season in IL) and I loved it. Taking in to consideration our tractor & tiller size and their combined maneuverability, I decided to keep the circle plan for perennials and to establish annual beds in the southern and western sides for more frequent tractor-accessibility. An overview of March steps:
- Moved fencing to allow tractor passage into garden
- Dug up & transplanted existing perennials to allow for garden tilling
- Spread manure
- Rototilled 3x (I did the first round and didn’t have the engine running fast enough… made for a ‘light’ tilling and a very stiff neck. Thankfully, Uncle David remedied the approach & donated tilling time)
- Established new center point of circle & marked out concentric circles / beds with flour
- Laid out perennial plants in their respective spots (per the on-paper plan)
- Laid cardboard & mulch in the walkways
- Added nutrients and compost to holes, used weed fabric in beds that would not have any additional seeds sewn, and planted plants
- Put frost covering on a few beds with tender perennials
I continue to rely on the support of family members who are ‘on the ground’ in IL and look forward to see what will develop in our absence. A new ecosystem is underway!
The Murphy-Collins team is presently in an entirely different universe. The adventure continues. Best, Megan
This post’s musical inspiration: