Phase Two and Potting Soil

by jericho | February 19, 2012 at 10:38 AM | categories: vermont, maine, garden | View Comments

On Friday, February 10th we headed to Maine with an extremely full van. I had to be careful to avoid bumps, or at least drive over them very slowly so as not to break an axle or anything. we definitely put the shocks to the test. But we made it! I thought I would include a few pictures of the inside of my cabin in Vermont (by request) and then move on to some pictures of our new home (Phase Two) in Dover-Foxcroft.

Here's the VT cabin:

And here is the Dover-Foxcroft cabin:

The cabin in Dover-Foxcroft was built by Nick and Lori Calderone (JP's parents) about 30 years ago. It is a lovely little two-floor building and they did much of the work with a chainsaw which makes it even more impressive!

You may notice that the pantry looks a bit like the inside of a shower stall. That's because it is the inside of a shower stall. At one point Lori did have running water hooked up, but now we haul our water from the hand pump just outside so I decided to re-purpose the shower. Every bit of space counts!

In the midst of getting settled in and learning the ropes of living without power and running water (which is wonderful, but takes a lot more time and planning than the alternative), our potting soil from Vermont Compost arrived!

I had figured that we would be using a little over one yard of potting soil for our garden this year. However, when I looked around at purchasing options it was actually going to be cheaper to buy two yards in bulk from Vermont Compost than to try buying individual bags of potting soil elsewhere. I knew that this would be quite a lot of potting soil, but assumed it would come on a big dump-type truck which would be tricky if the roads were muddy, but shouldn't have a problem getting down the driveway. Instead, it came on a tractor trailer!! Luckily, they hadn't posted the roads yet (they are posted now).

We spent some time at the end of the driveway discussing the possibilities with the truck driver because we weren't sure he could even fit in the driveway. But he was willing to give it a try and sure enough, with some seriously precise driving he made it! Now we have a giant marshmallow of potting soil waiting for ou very first seeds. It is a little hard to believe, but those seeds are actually scheduled to be planted this weekend. Giant Kohlrabi I believe. And then onions next week. So it begins...

Happy planting everyone!

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by jean-paul | February 19, 2012 at 10:38 AM | categories: maine, seeding, garden | View Comments

Up here at name-to-be-decided farm, Wednesday brought with it the official beginning of our growing season. Jericho and I seeded a tray of Kohlrabi (German turnip) (Brassica oleracea Gongylodes group) (a low, stout cultivar of the cabbage that will grow almost anywhere). Actually, we didn't quite seed the full tray; our spring planting only called for 3/4ths of a tray. I suspect that ridiculously small tasks will be the theme of this growing season.

Last fall we began our crop plan for this year. We strove for diversity and aimed for a yield which would produce enough to feed ourselves and provide a little extra for nearby family members. We're still tweaking the plan a little bit, but since we've actually bought our seeds already, only a few variables are still open to change.

On the goal of diversity, our plan calls for over fifty varieties of vegetables, representing almost forty distinct kinds of produce (forgive the awkward language here; at points you might expect me to say "species" I can't, since (for example) Kohlrabi, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Cabbage, and Turnips - all of which we'll be growing - are actually all of the same species; other words like cultivar also fail to capture the whole picture).

With such a variety of seeds, particularly when considering succession planting for continuous harvest, and (roughly) only ourselves as consumers, we'll be seeding one tray at a time for the majority of our plantings. Having WFCF volunteering as my only previous experience seeding flats, where three or four or five people would spend one or two or three hours seeding flats, I find this rather amusing. Jericho and I seeded our 3/4ths flat of Kohlrabi (together!) in about 45 seconds (the following part, where I dropped it, was not as amusing).

Another consequence of the wide variety is that we have a lot of information to manage: about what seeds to order, and in what quantities; about when to seed, when to transplant, when to harvest; about how many flats we'll need, how much space we'll need for crops. Since I love software (all of it, all the time), and as there appeared to be a rather sparse offering for this purpose, I wrote some to help out with planning these things out. It has given us a good framework (not always to be trusted, at least not yet) within to work for our early tasks. Hopefully before we get really busy, I'll have worked out the significant remaining bugs and we can actually rely on it. I've written more about the nitty gritty on my other blog, so as not to bore those of you not interested in such things.

Interspersed with these light agricultural duties, we've been walking in the woods (including one particularly beautiful walk a couple days ago right after a newly arrived half foot of snow), continuing to settle in to the cabin, and I've been preparing for (another!) trip to California. I have a short walk from our cabin to where there is electricity which serves as my commute.

I'm making this walk two to four times a day, which I hope is as exercise-y as it feels, since I'm supposed to be training for a 5k (in just under two weeks), but I have little hope of actually running anywhere in the vicinity any time soon.

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