Monday, April 11, 2011

How does your garden grow?

It's the middle of April, and that means one thing here on the farm....Planting Season!

Of course, the middle of April also brings to mind other important events such as the tax season deadline, and more importantly, the upcoming birthday of my youngest son.....more on that soon.

Usually in March (or sometimes February) with our first glimpse of warm, spring weather, I get excited and start making a "garden plan" including what seeds/plants to buy and how much as well as sitting down with my engineering husband to draw out the garden plan and where to plant everything.  I might even go ahead and buy the seeds to have at the house, but we know to wait patiently for about another month before planting because we have been known to get a mid-April frost (and we've lost garden plants in the past due to it).

Well, this year was a little different.  It might have something to do with the busyness of life involved with 4 little ones at home, a 5th one on the way, homeschooling, and new to us this year, baseball.  I had hardly given the garden a moment's thought and suddenly it's the middle of April!  Yes, I noticed that my father-in-law had plowed the garden and that he had already planted onions and tomatoes in his own garden, but I still thought we had plenty of time.  Then I looked at my husband's upcoming work schedule and my oldest son's upcoming baseball schedule....and I panicked!  I was looking at 2 available weekends to get the garden of which involved both my mother-in-law and baby's birthday celebrations and the other involved my husband working part of the weekend, a baseball game, Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Sunday/lunch.  After Easter weekend there would be no available weekends for my husband to be able to help until the end of May. 

So, instead of planning and discussing the garden for weeks, I called my husband at work one morning and quickly discussed what seeds to buy before heading out to the co-op that afternoon.  We (and by "we" I mean "he") then spent Saturday and Sunday evenings preparing the soil.  With the strong chance of rain later this afternoon, we wanted to at least get the corn in the ground before the rain.  That left me and my father-in-law and 6 children (2 of them were my nieces) with the task of planting 2lbs of corn seed.  He decided at 6:20 this morning that he was ready to start and was in our backyard, calling us on the phone to wake us up let us know he was ready.  After pulling 4 sleepy heads out of bed and finding a quick breakfast to stuff into them as they headed outside (peanut butter and jelly counts, right?), we began. 

The bare, empty garden

The morning went something like this....
1.  Father-in-law measures 30" from edge of garden and then hammers in two stakes with a string tied between them to mark the row.

2.  My 13 year old niece and I each start at one end of the row hoeing a trench 3 inches deep. 

3.  My 7 and 5 year olds start dropping corn seeds into the trench 4-6 inches apart (we hope) while I follow behind filling in gaps as necessary and separating clumps of seeds that all fell in one place.

4.  My father-in-law walks behind us, using his feet to cover over the seeds and trench with loose soil.

5.  We measure 30" over to start a new row and move the stakes/string to begin the process again.

Repeat 10 times.

Hard at work

If you look carefully, you can see the seeds

His official job.....staying out of trouble

Good help is hard to we birth 'em and start 'em young

You do taste-test your soil first, right?

Less than three hours later, we were finished.  11 rows, 100ft long each, planted in silver queen corn. 

Next up....squash, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, and okra.

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