Today wasn’t much of a work day, Corey and I went to Brazos Valley Recycling to get more compost for the farm. We borrowed Taylor’s truck to go and get it, it cost about twenty-five dollars total for a whole truck load. It was really good compost, it didn’t smell or have large clumps. It was a nice dark brown and had a great feel to it. This compost was going to be used for some of the other beds on the farm. After we go it, he needed to cover crop the field adjacent to fruit tree beds. So he took out the plow and did the field and I added a mixture of hairy vetch and black eyed peas. They are good sources of nitrogen for the soil once they have been left to grow.
Even though it was Good Friday and we didn't have classes, I still went out to farm to help out today. Tim gave Corey a fig that needed to be planted and I told him that the blueberries needed to be mulched so they wouldn’t dry up during the summer. I had to add compost to a different fruit tree bed and mound it up to plant the fig. It was fresh compost that smelled horrible, yuck, I proceeded to make a mound and plant the tree. I’m sure that my hands smelt like compost for the rest of the day, I scrubbed them a good five times and showered. Anyways, after that was done I mulched the blueberries with a black Texas organic mulch that was given to us. I also added a little bit more soil to the pots as well. About four inches of mulch was added to the tops of the soil in the containers for the blueberries to help retain moisture during the summer. The blueberries started to bloom, so we might have fruit in June.
The week before last was spring break and last week we didn’t spend much time cleaning the farm. So today I had the immense pleasuring of weeding the very front beds of the farm. I really didn’t mind it all that much and it was quite relaxing; I took off my shoes and put some music on, as it was only me for a while. About an hour passed by and some volunteers came and helped me because it was a lot of weeds. After one side was finished we planted chrysanthemums on the back side of the bed to add color in the fall. We added some ornamentals throughout the bed as well and pulled out dill plants that were about my height. After everyone had left I had to do the other bed right across from it. It looked like now had touched the beds in months and they probably haven’t. There some weeds that were just as tall as me, it also looked like a small forest on the bed. I only got half way through that bed before I had to go, it also had dill that had to be pulled. It was funny though, because each time a dill plant was pulled out it smelled like pickles. I really wanted some afterwards.
The persimmon and pomegranate were still “hilled in” in the other fruit tree bed, so I decided to work on the bed they were going to be planted in. Since we finished the framework of the bed it needed more compost on it to form a big enough mound for the trees to be planted. I added a lot of compost to the bed, I wanted to rake it and even it out by I didn’t have much time so I had to wait until the next day to start that project. On Tuesday, I was able to complete the bed and even out the compost and make mounds for the persimmon and pomegranate trees. I finished my project, but now was the real test to see in the next couple years if the trees would produce fruit.
Today I had help with some volunteers, Tom and Mitchell in finishing the other raised bed for the remaining fruit trees. I used the power tools on the farm and felt empowered. We had to stack the pieces of wood on top of each other in a staggered way to fit them in the bed. Part of the bed was done but the rest of it wasn’t. The first time drilling the screws went very smoothly but when we tried it again on another set of wood pieces, the screw just did not want to go in at all. Another volunteer at the time came by and helped us; he went and got a ratchet and tightened the screws manually. The wood pieces were very heavy and so we grabbed it from both ends and the middle to place it in the bed. We had to make four wood pieces to finish the beds. That in itself took about an hour and half to two hours to complete because we had to let the battery charge for the hand held power drill. While we waited for it to charge we tried to flush the pieces that we just put in the raised beds with the ones that were already there, but since the wood is so long and heavy it really didn’t budge until someone used a sludge hammer to get it closer.
Monday Kimberly and I helped Corey and Johnathan flip and sort the compost pile. We spent the entire time shoveling the compost over the wire to separate the finer soil from the materials that were still being decomposed. We didn’t quite finish the pile because it started to rain and it was also about time to go. Last week Corey had some volunteers to cut down some bamboo and cut them into short pieces for fencing. The bamboo was painted purple, red, and green and at first I wasn’t sure if that would look good but it actually looks really nice. It was to be put around the keyhole garden that was just built on Friday. I had the great pleasure of running wire through 15 pieces of bamboo, twice, to keep them together for the fence. I spent the entire time doing that and almost finished surrounding the garden but then ran out.
They are finally here! All of the fruit that I ordered, came in today from Womack Nursery. The trees were sent bare rooted to help have less of a transplant shock. It was a very cold day, I’m pretty sure it’s been the coldest by far. We hadn’t put any compost in the beds yet. Michael and I started piling on the compost into the beds and it smelled so bad. We had fun shoveling the organic matter onto the beds and made sport of it but after a while I was ready to plant the trees in the ground. I was really excited to start these trees for the farm because they really don’t have any type of fruit. Once Michael and I shoveled on enough compost, I started to make mounds for three trees. The mounds help with irrigation and once the tree starts to bear fruit the fruit itself won’t be touching the ground and so forth. Tim Hartman came down to check on the trees for me and to also help me with pruning of the trees. I was super excited to finally plant the trees that I have been waiting for! The first tree to be planted in the raised beds was the Methley plum, then the Orient pear and lastly the La Feliciana peach. We had to hill in the pomegranate and the fig tree in the same bed because the other tree bed wasn’t finished. The trees are pruned to induce lateral growth of the branches to have a better frame for bearing fruit. It takes about two to three years to train the trees to get the shape desired and in the third year the trees should bear fruit. The trees were pruned to about a two and half feet tall and the branches were pruned to have at least three to four buds. Each tree was planted and pruned back and will be ready to prune again next year. After the trees were planted and pruned, I went over to help Michael and everybody else with the keyhole garden. The structure was already done, but the place where the compost would go needed to have wire there. So I helped Michael set up and thread the wire to hold its shape until, he was done. I couldn’t feel my hands anymore, as the wind had a bite to it and it was very strong. It was a very productive day for the farm.
Yesterday the blueberries came in and I was able to place the order for all of the fruit trees except the jujubes, they were sold out completely so we settled for the five trees; I think Tim is going to give us a jujube tree he is working on. I must say that I was overjoyed by the thought of finally being able to plant blueberries and get everything ready for them. Corey had bought the peat moss the blueberries, they need the soil to acidic, and peat moss lowers the pH of the soil. The blueberries came in one gallon containers and the containers that we are using for the transplant and final potting of the blueberries are about 20-25 gallons a piece. We mixed the peat moss in a wheel barrel with water to make the soil moist for the blueberries. We had to do this five times for each plant, the bag of peat moss was 85 liters and it was a very windy day today! Needless to say I was covered in soil by the end of it. I had help from volunteers today and Kimberly, without them it would have taken me at least two days or a longer time than today to finish all of it. We put the blueberries near the tool shed because there they will receive full sunlight. Now I just wait for the trees to come in and for time to take its course.