Monday, April 25, 2011

Up! and a splash of color

I'm always game for the color splash... You've got to love Mother Nature, in all her immodest spring glory working in the cadmium yellow and chartreuse: who else could get away with such an awful/glorious color scheme that shakes our winter bones in just the right way? Friday around 9:30 pm the caterpillar tunnel/hoophouse was finished-- and then came a crow-inspired wet, heavy snowstorm Friday night. I spent most of Saturday repairing the damage-- and it was a great reminder to simply do things right the first time. But, I learned some good lessons, and have some new tweaks for the design of the next house... Some shots from inside the hoophouse, our new tropical haven!
Ready for more seeding, always.
Big thanks to all who lent helping hands and headlamps (Justin) to help make the house possible!

Less than a week to May, nevermind the late daffs and gray days. We're bound for warmer times.

Caterpillar Backbone

Thiiiiis big... With some big help from some little people, the caterpillar keeps worming its way toward existing...
Great helpers!
Thanks Tully, Kai, and Corey!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Caterpillar Time

Steps one and one-point-five for the caterpillar hoophouse construction: rockbags and rebar/foundation setting! With the help of Nicole and Philip, we had a quick rock harvest and made some weights to help hold down the imminent greenhouse film... No shortage of rocks to be had!

The lovely finished product, 10-15# counterweights to hopefully allow for the sidewalls to move up and down at the weather's will. Hard times on the farm: the intrepid foundation crew. If it looks cold, that'd be about right. Thirty-five degrees, spitting snow, fast-moving rain clouds brewing overhead help us to move quickly.Dimensions: 42' x 10.5', 441 sqft under cover. Ribs are spaced at 6', and we'll see how well they hold up on Wind Hill. You can barely see the rebar foundation supports that mark the base of the ribs, plus two T-posts centered and eight feet out to support a laundry-line center ridge purland.
Next steps: stretching the PVC ribs across and fixing them to the rebar supports, tying off the center ridge purland, and setting the film attachment rebar, and unrolling the 6mil greenhouse film. Let's hope for a nice, quiet day when the plastic arrives. It was a great way to close off this lovely spring break, and as always, work goes faster and more hilariously with friends! Snow and rain tonight serve as a good reminder to why we're creating this little pocket of passive solar warmth-- come on at us, Spring!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Break!

It's a bit of a rough time to be in Vermont right now, if there were ever such a thing: the buds are-- wait, what buds?-- we'll keep it real simple. The snow is gone. Gone down low, at least, and we'll just not mention the shaded zones. After a spot of rain overnight, the lawn turned GREEN. The redwing blackbirds are back with all their glorious cacophany of trill, outer-space noises, or at least on sunny days. There were peepers, too, first in Rupert down on the rail-trail heading to West Pawlet on Sunday, and then Monday night here, up higher, at home. Sleeping happened with the windows open on Monday night for the first time-- granted, they're sealed up tight again tonight (overnight lows in the twenties)-- but I'll happily take that bit of fresh night as it comes.

And, changes are happening. Spring has definitely made her presence known to us, tease that she is, and the past few sunny days allowed me to get into the field and rototill the whole whopping half-acre. My winter rye cover crop barely made it, I think due to the freezing cold temps of early last winter, without snow cover to insulate, which was a bit disapppointing. The upshot is that it's far less intensive work on the tiller to work the soil/green mass back in. I even got to work in a bunch of rotted horse manure and greensand... and prepped a beautiful, tilthy seedbed for 120' of Sugar Snap and Oregon Giant Snow Peas. I feel like I'm already counting down the 68 days from emergence, waiting for the crisp sweetness of those earthy peas. Yes!

More progress is being made, in my typical do-it-yourself, small-scale fashion: this year's big addition is an unheated, caterpillar-style hoophouse to be built in the field. I'm very much looking forward to shelter for the storm of spring for seedling starts, as well as a boost for what has in the past been a boon for tomatoes... especially for an estimated cost of $325 for about 440 square feet of coverage. I'm waiting for materials to arrive, more details to come soon, I am sure. Inspiration for the tunnel was provided by Growing For Market, some fresh-to-me gorgeous Califone tunes with lots of aching pedal-steel, as well as for some thoughtful considerations and interesting case studies.

Scallions and parsely and some volunteer Siberian kale are working their way back, hanging in there, and I've seen fresh sprigs and sprouts from the yarrow, helenium, monarda, gold coin, sage, and salad burnet. I'm still holding my breath to see if if the thyme, oregano, and lavender made it through the winter.

Next up: more planning to help get the wedding flowers up and organized, drawing wildly on the lovely for inspiration, and... starting seeds! Finally!

I hope spring is springing wherever you are, and that the contagion of hope is flowing, milk and honey, vivid and bright! Cheers!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Signs of Spring

Spring has been taking its sweet time here in southern Vermont, keeping the day and nighttime temperatures low-- but we've had some nice runs of sunny days to keep our hopes up... Crocus pocus-- color splash. GPF homegrown garlic starting to make its way up through the mulch. Notice the snow still up high... Alien rhubarb nodes unfurl. Realism: Smiles and lots of layers up top...
Optimism: fifty degrees is all it takes for me!

Things are looking good: the soil is drying out nicely, the yarrow is starting to unwind itself up to the sun, and CSA memberships are almost full for the summer. If you haven't signed up yet-- be sure to send in your registration before April 15th for the discounted rate! Cheers!