Five Green Acres Mary Jo + Andrew Borchardt Poynette, WI
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Did I tell you we have lots of tractors?

Did I tell you we have lots of tractors?
June 1, 2011 Mary Jo

We have three gardens.  By gardens, I mean big rectangular-ish spaces protected with a fence to keep deer, pugs, and chickens out, spaces that were for the most part cultivated at some time in the past, but not necessarily during our tenure.   I suppose the new squash bed qualifies too – it’s big and fenced in, but hasn’t to my knowledge been cultivated before.  Let’s up it to four.  We have four gardens.  Holy crap.

Four gardens means I have no business sitting here writing about them – I should be out there planting.  A quick running of some numbers on the calculator says I have about 37% of the gardens planted.  Isn’t that handy – to have a calculator nearby?  Not really.  I already know that there is A LOT yet to be done; I can feel the weight of it all pressing down on me.

Good thing I have these tractors.

This here is the 7 S.P. model, which we’ve found to be great for making the first pass through an overgrown area we’d like to cultivate.  It’s an old-fashioned tractor, moving slow and easy, needing lots of breaks for a quick milk snack or to just stop and ruminate a bit.  I’ve found that running this tractor for about a day or two is about right.

The finer tilling and weed-pulverization is done with this:  it’s a 8 C.P. tractor just built by The Mister, who’s quickly gaining a reputation around these parts as Someone Who Can Build Things Well.  And it’s a fine tractor, no?  Both top panels flip up on hinges, allowing us easy access to refuel or lubricate the moving parts.  It moves along easily, a day at a time.  We’re not going to win any speed awards with either of these tractors, to be sure.

The goal here is to not have to till two of the gardens.  Not because I’m lazy, though I don’t mind having the livestock doing all this weed-clearing for me, but because I believe those things I’ve read that point to no-till as being better for the soil and ultimately better for weed suppression.  I see it (in theory) as lots of work up front, hauling in mulch but less weeding work later.  And that’s the goal here – to beat the weeds to submission by chomping them down to the ground and then suffocating them under heaps of mulch and compost.  Herein lies the strategies to Gardens 2 and 3 – mulch the bejeezes out of them.  Then dig a little hole through the mulch, plop in the tomatoes and the peppers grown so fine, tuck them in, water them with the drip lines when needed, and then tap my toe while I wait with my buckets to harvest.

Sounds like a plan.  I’ll report back on how it all actually works.

Credit due: my AHA! moment with trying to figure out how to do this no-till method here came from this post by Farmama.

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