Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hugelkultur raspberry update

Another hugelkultur update!  Remember last spring's raspberry project?  Here is what it looked like on May 1 this spring:

Most of that lush growth is raspberry shoots.  The sticks are prunings from the apple trees, strategically placed to keep the hens from digging in the rich hugelkultur soil.  Nutmeg is photobombing.
Since discovering the wonders of woodchips, I decided this would be a perfect mulch for my raspberries and for the apple and pear trees behind the raspberry row.  First, though, I needed a small wall to keep the woodchips off the lawn.  An inexpensive option is patio blocks.  We will see if the frost pushes them all out next winter/spring.  If it does, I'll simply redo it some other way.  I needed something quick for now.

The beginning of the wall to hold the woodchips off the lawn.
Weeding and carefully putting chips around and under the plants.
I dumped lots of chips on the lawn after putting down several layers of newspaper to kill the grass.
 This entire area will ultimately be covered in woodchips so no mowing will need to be done around the fruit trees and raspberry beds.  This should also dramatically reduce the need to weed the raspberries.  More chips will likely need to be added, especially the first few years.  We will see!
As the woodchips break down, they will feed the fruit trees and raspberry canes with mineral rich compost.  I'm so excited about this project!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hugelkultur update

Remember the berry project from last spring?  Here they are on May 1!

A year later and the currants are flowering!

 One of the two surviving gooseberry plants has a few flowers, too.
One of the gooseberries has filled out nicely. 
Only 2 of 8 gooseberries survived...but they did arrive from Burgess dead, after all.  All the replacement plants they sent were also obviously DOA.  They sent more recently, my third shipment, and about half looked completely dead and two of the maybe-alive ones were broken off just above the roots.  Order anywhere else.  One plant marked as a gooseberry was actually a grape, too.  Sheesh!  The aggravation and time lost was definitely not worth the perceived savings.
The currants are doing better, although the biggest one is still smaller than the gooseberries.  The bricks in the photos are to keep the hens from digging them up....they are obsessed with any area of disturbed soil.  The plan is to eventually woodchip this area, in the spirit of the film, Back to Eden.  More on this coming up soon!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sweet Nutmeg

I gave in.  I kept a doeling this year.  How could I not?  Look at that sweet face!

Princess of the Bricks!
This was Plum's second...her first was a single buckling, born in the wee hours of the night, snuck out without any assistance between my frequent peeks two years ago.  Plum didn't have a pattern yet, having only delivered one baby, so I wasn't sure if she'd do the same thing again.  She did.
Nutmeg was a singleton, born between barn checks around 3 AM on an unusually cold night.  I always get nervous about deliveries and checked about every hour.  I swear Plum checked her watch and knew my pattern, and purposely crossed her legs and looked unconcerned, then quickly shot that baby out the second the door closed behind me.  Plummy officially has a pattern now.  It is a pattern of easy births, so even though it is in the middle of the night, I can live with it!
As is usual here, I got her right onto a bottle.  Many people have expressed concern about this, thinking it has a note of cruelty to it for both mother and baby.  Let me tell you, it is far easier on everyone concerned to keep them apart right from the first moment than to separate them two three months later.  There is barely a whimper when the baby is "pulled" from the momma within minutes.  The wailing and crying two months later is heart wrenching and can be heard throughout the entire neighborhood.....and it is not just mine!

Nutmeg comes on well-supervised walks with the dogs while she is less than a week old.  At this age, she does not wander far from us and will come immediately when called.  All I have to do is call her and start to run, and she is at my side in a blink.

Since she is a single baby and has no siblings on the farm right now, she spends a lot of time with me while I garden and do spring clean up.  Since she is not eating solid food yet, I can take her everywhere on the property without fear of her destroying my plants.

Nutmeg likes to supervise building projects.

"Your wall is crooked!"  She is a hard task-mistress!
(Nutmeg is a couple of days old in these pictures, taken a few weeks ago.)