March 28, 2016
Time for Outdoor Spring Chores
We’ve been pretty lucky here in the Northeast - the weather has been mild enough to continue our long list of outdoor chores, and that’s good news for everyone at the farm.
But, there’s also a lot to do, and the outdoor grounds crew is busy with many projects including trimming and pruning the hedges and shrubs, cutting back invasive thorny barberry in the woodlands, and roto-tilling the vegetable garden beds in preparation for planting. Here are some photos. What spring chores are on your list?
And, be sure to check in tomorrow, when I share lots of photos from my Easter party! It was a wonderful time.
1 Wilmer is on the upper terrace parterre trimming the hedges in front of my large front porch.
2 Using Japanese Okatsune hedge shears, he carefully manicures the boxwood. Okatsune shears are light and precise, and the blades are made using the same hammer-forged steel used for manufacturing Japanese swords. http://goo.gl/YkfmZr
3 I like trimming and pruning to be done manually so the leaves are not damaged. Hand shears are user-friendly and leave hedges looking flat and tidy.
4 Wilmer moves onto the barberry, which will be trimmed so it is just a couple inches taller than the boxwood.
5 The hedges on the left are all trimmed. The ones on the right are not yet finished. Can you see the difference?
6 Here is another finished bed. Boxwood, with its compact evergreen leaves, adds nice texture and form to a garden, but occasionally, it does need to be pruned and cleaned to get rid of dead or twisted branches.
7 These are the two beds on the other side - the one on the left is not yet finished, but the one on the right looks very good.
8 Not far, Fernando is doing what we call "dragging" the road.
9 The outdoor grounds crew created a special device we use to "drag" the carriage roads - this contraption rakes the gravel, so it is even and also picks up any debris along the way.
10 It is made from four rakes attached to a wooden frame. It is crucial to maintain gravel roads, so water can flow properly during storms.
11 I built these carriage roads this way because they provide the best footing for my horses. It takes a bit of time to "drag" the four-miles of carriage road at the farm, but they look well-groomed after it is completed.
12 In the woodlands, Chhering clears the thorny Japanese barberry that invades the area during early spring.
13 They are low-growing thorny shrubs that crowd other native trees and plants in the woodland. We cut them back about 20-feet in from the carriage roads, and in this area, we're clearing as much as we can for new trees.
14 Our friends from SavATree also came by to help clear this large area of my woods, where I plan to plant more seedlings. http://www.savatree.com
15 Here, they are chipping old branches and trunks that have been collected and piled nearby.
16 Felled trees are hand carried and dragged out of the woods.
17 Everything is fed into the wood chipper, which blows the chips right back into the woods, where they will eventually decompose.
18 And, now that spring is here, it's time to tend to the outdoor vegetable gardens and prepare them for planting.
19 Wilmer tilled the garden with our trusted Troy-Bilt Pony Rear-Tine Tiller. It helps to level the ground as it turns over the soil.
20 The machine is set to till the soil at about six to eight inches deep, with no gaps in between the rows.
21 Any remnants of vegetables and other roots and vines were removed before tilling began. This makes it easier for the rototiller to do its job, and prevents anything from getting caught in the tines.
22 Only rototill when the ground is moist, but not wet - the soil should still crumble when picked up.
23 And, pick a day with little or no wind, which could slow down the process.
24 It looks great after a first pass with the rototiller. Wilmer will go over the area one more time before adding compost and manure.
25 The vegetable garden adjacent to the chicken coops is next. I can't wait to start planting! Tomorrow, I will share photos from my wonderful Easter gathering!