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August 28, 2011 / 74

Long Day in the Rain

If you are all wondering why I’m not posting as much as I used to – it’s called getting ready for Spring! Today I put in a 12 hour day – mowing some yard – in the rain, raking it and using the lawn sweeper to pick most of it up – so I could haul it up to the garden. Day before yesterday I ordered 100 new strawberries to plant this fall. I had to rototill the spot I’m putting them, twice to get the straw and detritus turned under to compost by Spring and, and then rake it smooth, and then I had to lay about a 3 to 4  inch bed of green fresh-mowed grass atop the whole thing. When the strawberries come, I’ll be able to plant them through the grass as soon as they arrive, and next spring I’ll already have a head start on the weeds and on giving the berries a nice clean place to lay – ie keeping them out of the dirt.

While I was mowing, it started to rain… which was a good thing as I’d been mowing ragweed yesterday and the rain washed all the yellow pollen off.

And a word of warning – if you are going to mow in the rain and then rake the clippings into piles – MAKE SURE YOU DO SOMETHING WITH THEM IMMEDIATELY!!! Like the same day. Wet grass/hay/weeds piled up and compacted will begin to immediately “cook down” (compost) – and if it does this in the open air – where there is oxygen – you could have a fire on your hands. yeah, I know. Wet stuff shouldn’t burn – but the heat of decomposition WILL ignite the pile. I saw a neighbor not too long ago who had someone mow his hay field and bale it up in big bales. Apparently the person doing the work wasn’t too knowledgeable – because the bales started cooking off and the neighbor lost the entire cutting of hay – it just burned up.

So if you mow it wet, leave it lay out – don’t rake it up or pile it or bail it until it’s dry. In my case, I spread the grass out over bare dirt and spread it thin enough that it couldn’t get enough heat built up to burn. But in the time it took to pile the wet grass, and to load it in my little garden wagon, and to take it up and spread it out, the middle of the little wagon load was already getting HOT!

THE BEANS!!! I’m getting a high germination rate on the beans I fall planted – and I’m having early morning visitors to my little garden patch – a couple of birds are visiting and apparently EATING the grasshoppers, based on the declining damage being done by them. YEAH!!!

I’d bemoan the death of the beets and the lack of carrots – but the dirt I’m trying to raise them in is newly worked (this year). It’s Loess clay – which two days after a 2″ rain was as hard as concrete. This stuff has NO tilth at ALL! I’m working on that… (See above) So root crops wouldn’t tend to do well at all anyway… but still… I dearly loves me some BEETS! Now the peas… I’m not sure if the ‘hoppers ate them or if they just didn’t come up… have to wait and see.

And the chickens continue to be thrilled to death as I catch the tomato horn worms and pass them on… there sure are a lot of them!

Today was the first day we let the little hens out of their pen. We had to keep the roosters locked up for the day tho… and the guineas and the chickens were pacing back and forth… the guineas got ALL upset when some chickens went into the guinea’s pen… so I ran the chickens out and the guineas settled down to eating bugs and grass. Tomorrow the little hens have to stay in their pen so the roosters can be out… turn and turn-about.

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