Today was sunny and not as windy. Around 9:00 I decided to go for the greenhouse cover. We usually do this chore together, because the wind can come up when the project is at a crucial point, causing the entire sheet of plastic (24′ x 120′) to take off like a sail. Alice had to work today, though, so Franco and I decided to go it alone.

It was calm until we got started, and then little wisps of ripples began on the pond. Shoot. I kept going. The first step is to get the whole thing unrolled next to the greenhouse frame. The plastic cover is not that heavy, but too bulky to carry without help. I had staged it near the greenhouse earlier this spring, though, so with some effort I managed to drag it into position and start unrolling it.

Once unrolled, I take one end of the plastic sheet and try to drag it over the framework. This takes some doing because the ribs are probably 8′ above the ground at their highest point. Tall guys like me do bump their heads more often then the shorties, but we do have the advantage when we have to drag a massive sheet of plastic over steel pipes.

A lot of walking back and forth; tugging here, pulling there, unfolding, and finally the sheet was sitting on its framework. The plastic is discolored where it has touched the ribs from previous years, so it was easy to find roughly where it needed to go. Then I quickly attached the sheet on both ends.

In order to attach the sheet to the lengthwise sections of the framework, I need to lay down in the dirt, mud, brambles, or whatever happens to be on the ground, grab the end of the plastic sheet with one hand, insert one end of the 10′ section of SureLock ™ into its channel, balance the other end of the SureLock ™ with my foot, and pound the thing in with the rubber mallet I drag around on the ground with me. The moment both hands and one foot are busy, word gets around with the lady mosquitoes in the neighborhood that fresh indefensible blood is available. As they are feeding joyfully, Franco decides it is time to lay his slimy stick on my chest, hoping I’ll throw it for him.

Crawl, lay down, line up, pound pound, slap slap, throw, crawl some more. The greenhouse is 16′ x 96′, and once each spring, I crawl the length of both sides of it on my butt. The result of about an hour of this activity follows:


Once that was done, it was time to broadcast 50# of granulated lime on the gardens, and to fertilize the buckwheat halves of both gardens with triple 12. I call it triple 12, but this year, all I could find was 12-0-12. It seems we’re using our brains as a people and attempting to keep excess phosphorous out of our waterways. I’m willing to take a fertility hit in the garden in exchange for fewer algae blooms in our waterways.

Next I started the big rototiller and worked up both gardens. They look great this year… like chocolate cake mix. The next steps will be to plant the buckwheat in half of each garden and keep that watered until it is tall and green. This crop of green manure is plowed in 3 times this season, and then sown with annual rye for the winter. Then next season, I’ll use that section for the garden, and plant buckwheat in the other half. We’ve been doing this green manure thing in half the garden space for 10 years or so now, and each year I think we see improvements.

After that, we can plant. I hope to have everything planted by this weekend. Then, as all you gardeners out there know already, all we have to do is sit back and wait for the food to fall into our hands. Ha!

In other big news today, Ryan and I got the Scout running! The problem turned out to be a bad coil. Interestingly, we replaced the coil early in the diagnosis part of the project, but must have gotten a defective one. I grabbed a coil from one of the junk Scouts I keep around, and once installed it started right up. I drove it to the woods with a trailer load of sawmill slabs, emptied it, and drove it back home. It is good to have my farm vehicle back.

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