More of the Same...

Much of what we do here is by nature repetitious, both in farming and biochar production.  Occasionally we do something new or something differently, but after a relatively short time, we've developed somewhat of a routine.  And since I'm always thinking of what might be interesting to share with our viewers, that makes it a little more challenging.  We recently moved our rolling greenhouse to its next location, on top of the winter garden, but the process was identical to last year's move, so instead of writing about that, you can just check out the video in the post I did last year.  Similarly, with the wonderful help of my son Sean, a few weeks ago we dug new raised beds in the area we left fallow this year.  This was after tilling in enough biochar and compost, to bring the biochar content of the top foot of the soil up to about fifteen percent by volume.  But I already wrote about that before too.  We also pulled out a lot of stones in the process, which I've previously written about too.

The week Sean was here, we dug about 2000 linear feet of raised beds, transplanted about 1500 strawberry plants, and planted and mulched over 1400 cloves of garlic (previously written about here and here), each of which will grow into a full head.  This was just part of our "race against winter" this year, as compared to last year's.  This year our spring cool weather crops didn't do as well as previously, which I have attributed to the late planting.  Last winter was so cold and snowy for so long, that the grounds seemed to take forever to dry out enough to be able to work them.  Since we had begun producing and stockpiling biochar over the winter, we wanted to get it into the garden soil, and so we had to wait to do our planting.  This year we're following Eliot Coleman's advice of preparing the garden beds in the fall, so we can get an earlier start on planting next spring.  The weather guessers are already calling for another long, cold winter this year, so we don't want to get a late start again next year.  To help us through this winter, we just recently finished modifying our warming hut by the biochar retort, correcting the initial inadequate design.  It holds the heat in much better now and should make this winter's burns a little more comfortable.

Retort warming hut with new front wall with door and viewing window. Now it actually keeps us warm.
Retort warming hut with new front wall with door and viewing window. Now it actually keeps us warm.

"More of the same" may at first sound a little boring, but things seem to be going well, progressing toward our vision of what we want to accomplish, and we're happy to not be having a lot of "surprises" right now.  One new twist we did this year was growing quinoa.  In my next post, I'll tell you about our success with that.  In the meantime, here are some photos of our recent activity.   Steve

New 150' long bed for strawberry plants.
New 150' long bed for strawberry plants.
Strawberry bed after transplanting and mulching for winter.
Strawberry bed after transplanting and mulching for winter.
Starting 'em young: Sean teaching his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Olivia how to put down mulch.
Starting 'em young: Sean teaching his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Olivia how to put down mulch.
Garlic beds: planted and mulched, ready for winter.
Garlic beds: planted and mulched, ready for winter.
Sean expertly raking a new bed.
Sean expertly raking a new bed.
Finished beds. Quality of photos is grainy because it was nearly dark when we finished.
Finished beds. Quality of photos is grainy because it was nearly dark when we finished.
A couple days after digging and raking the beds, a nor'easter blew through and dumped 3" of rain. The beds held up well.
A couple days after digging and raking the beds, a nor'easter blew through and dumped 3" of rain. The beds held up well.