So I’ve planted my potatoes, butternut squash, field pumpkins and melons. Late, as usual, but given that it was a long winter, with a late spring it’s not as bad as it seems looking at the calendar. Looking around I can see a lot of people have only just put them in so I’m not doing as bad as I thought. Alec is the exception of course – he’s already harvesting his lettuce and kale and had his potatoes hilled two weeks ago, but Alec is Alec and sets the standard that others follow. Come to think of it my last neighbour was like that too, and Laura’s grandad as well… so maybe I am a bit of a slacker.
Anyhoo, the sun dried out the top inch or so of my tilled beds, or more accurately at this stage ‘strips’. Underneath was wet but not waterlogged, which bodes well I guess. I did three more passes with the tiller (a week after the initial tilling) before the soil was light enough and relatively clump-less to poke stuff into it.
I have a rather handy attachment for the tractor that is a mid-buster and a hiller on the same toolbar. What you do is you run down your prepared bed with the mid-buster on, which is a sweep on a pole in the centre of the tool, you lay your potatoes or whatever in the furrow you’ve created then you raise the mid-buster and lower the hilling disks, meaning that you don’t have to unhook one implement and hook another up. Very handy.
I aborted my first pass as my hilling disks were set at too great an angle, causing the dried organic material to lodge and drag behind the tractor instead of bunch up into a nice long hill. This also had the undesired effect of dragging my painstakingly spaced potatoes along and scattering them willy nilly along the bed. I could have dug them all out, re-spaced them and hilled them again but I didn’t – I just replaced any that were visibly out of line and kicked the dirt back over them, resigning myself to another cocked up potato harvest later in the year.
Once the discs were set right though the hill formed fine so I trundled back to the shed, hoiked off the hiller/mid-buster affair and hooked up my seed drill. This is an iron framework constructed to hold up to three Earthway seeders and hook up to the tractors three point hitch, enabling you to plant your rows in your prepared bed with ease and accuracy. It also has a little jump seat on it so some poor sod, er I mean brave helper can sit on it and watch that the seeds are flowing through the hoppers and not jamming, thus ensuring that you have an evenly spaced crop. This spacing control is achieved by a set of disks that spin in the hopper, collecting one seed at a time, dropping it into a tiny furrow made by a piece of angled alumimum and covered by a loop f chain that it drags along behind it. Very clever stuff. What’s more is that it comes with several disks for just about every seed you can plant with it.
Except I couldn’t find the disk for melons and squash. On googling for which disk best to use the very first page stated a very reassuring and long list of what seeds it was good for before stating ‘Of course the Earthway seeder is not able to plant seeds such as melons, pumpkins and squash as these need to be planted in hills’. Ahem.
So I unhitched the seeder and dragged my hiller back over to the tractor, re-attaching it and only once dropping the pointy bit on my wellie clad foot. I made hills down the entire lengths of my beds and proceeded to plant the butternut squashes, field pumpkins and melons. I was rather chuffed with this because that’s it, it’s done. My gardening for this year. Apart from the cultivating, hoeing, iriigation and harvesting. If I get my hands on a plow and can borrow the rototiller again I’ll prepare the beds in the fall for next year, adding seaweed and maybe planting a cover crop to boot. Plus I want to do the same for the orchard we’re putting in this fall, so maybe there’s a little more tractor time to come.
As it is it’s in and rain was forecast for today and tomorrow, which can only be good. Oh, no, wait – the forecast has ben upgraed to a hurricane, with 80mm of rain and 100km/h winds. Bugger.