Spring 2017 was a season dedicated to new ideas, plenty of experiments and the hope that my ever growing list of projects would finally dwindle to something akin to manageable.
Our first great experiment of the year was to sow seeds in the new greenhouse. Before we could step foot outside, however, I thought it proper to begin our agricultural year with some coffee that had been ground to a fine powder in this treasure that I purchased over the winter:
There is something intensely satisfying about finding a simple way to perform work without electricity. I suppose one of my great goals in life is to reach a point where we could live comfortably without any interference from the grid. Sometimes it feels as if electricity is more of a hindrance than a blessing – sort of like the cell phone. Sure, texting others is much faster and easier than writing a letter but is it worth the ease of use when we lose the ability to compose anything meaningful?
After throwing on a warm flannel and my wool cap, we made our way out to the greenhouse. At twenty degrees warmer than the outside temperature, I was excited to get seeds into the ground. We planted a mystery mix of several handfuls of old, expendable seed that had fallen out of envelopes and was laying at the bottom of a storage bin. There are two things that I simply cannot bring myself to do when it comes to gardening – throwing away seed and thinning baby plants. There just seems to be something inherently terrible about doing either one.
Out of my mystery mix I was able to harvest two different types of lettuce, spinach and radishes. This crop produced heavily and gave us a very early start on our home food production. This experiment was successful and now only needs tweaked every year to see how early we can start our greens in this way.
After putting in this early crop we decided to tackle the first big project of the year by beginning to construct 6 new additional raised beds. Our homestead depends on always expanding the number of beds that we have available and with plans to increase the number of varieties of plants each year, we must stay on goal. We spent nearly the entire month of March putting in five beds until we finally ran out of compost and dirt on the last one. We would have to wait until the ground dried up before we could go to our collection area for more bedding material.
Soon after finishing up the last bed and halting our work, the weather cooled off to the point that we had freeze warnings in our area. Much of our outdoor work was replaced by a retreat back inside where we fell into a quiet rhythm of reading and napping until another few weeks passed by. Eventually the cold snap passed and before we knew it April had come and our planting season was full upon us.