Several people have asked me how things are going at the new farm near Mint Hill, so I thought I would give you an update. This spring, we decided our goal was to get the permanent crops planted. This included blueberries, blackberries, grapes, and chokecherries. We also decided to plant some vegetable crops for our CSA, just to see how the soil was and get a feel for the land. Now that it is June, all I can say is that we did it, but it wasn’t without problems. I suppose that should have been expected.
Back in March, we got all the permanent crops planted. In the process, we discovered that a good amount of the land was really shallow rocky soil. The soil is also nothing like the red clay we are used to working with. It is sort of a rocky sand! That is very unusual for our area. We were blessed with good spring rains and nearly everything we planted grew and did well, despite the poor soils. I’m convinced it won’t be doing well for long though. The land looks almost barren. I told Jay it looks like it needs “life”. So, we have begun the task of building the soils with beautiful compost, to add that life.
Our high school helpers have been out there shoveling loads and loads of compost around the new baby plants. The land is so desperate, it seems the compost disintegrates into the ground almost as fast as we put it out. Continual composting is going to be a long term project. Luckily, we made friends with a local tree trimmer who has kindly dumped lots of wood chips in a huge mountain out there. Over time, this will break down into more beautiful mulch that we will spread around the bushes. So far so good. Almost everything is alive and growing. We are starting the well this week, so with water and mulch, things are going to get better and better. I can’t wait to see things grow.
When we bought the farm, we sketched out where we wanted everything to be and went about putting everything in the planned places. We have discovered that it is time to redo the plan. We put the winter vegetables in an area that was quite rocky and not great soil for veggies. We made the best of it and did manage to get quite a lot harvested, but have identified another place on the farm with much better loamy soils, that will be the home of our fall vegetables. We have from now until August to mark out the site and get some compost out there. I think the new site will work well. Meanwhile, the old rocky site looks like a great area for parking, equipment, a shop, or maybe a store! Probably not so great for crops though. Live and learn.
You can tell the land was worked in cotton, beans and corn in the past because of the weeds that are present. The land is covered with pig-weed and mares tail. Pig-weed is hard to get rid of and makes about a zillion seeds. It is going to be a long-term project to get these weeds managed. For now, we are hand weeding/hoeing all of these bad guys out of our cropping area. The plan for the rest of the land is to simply bush-hog it over and over again, so the weeds cannot grow enough to make seeds. Hopefully over time, this will begin to solve the problem. It is going to be difficult.
Last week Jay bush-hogged all the land we didn’t plant. That step is starting to make it look like the farm we have in mind. Everything looks so neat and tidy. With the weeds mowed down, you can see the pretty little blueberry bushes and the veggie area is beautifully green. This farm is a labor of love that just keeps getting better and better. It won’t be easy, but it will be great!
Eat your veggies!