Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rototilling for Corn

Ten days. Woof.

A while back a great friend of mine gave me a rototiller. She didn't have the kind of garden you really would want to rototill (think English Romantic) so she didn't have much use for it anymore.

Around here, what we could really use is a huge tractor with about six attachments, but since we don't have one of those, we do everything by hand. Rototilling counts as 'by hand', btw, if you're working on about a quarter acre of veggie garden.

Oh, and those advertisements of the thin blonde following casually behind her rototiller, smiling with overly-white teeth?

No. Just, no.

The first 'cut' with the rototiller went in a couple of inches, just enough so that I could see dirt between the thickest clumps of chewed-up grass. To accomplish this, I had to hold the beast back while it hewed, sometimes in vain, at the compacted sod.  This is rather like holding back two huge dogs in harnesses while they try to pull you in surges in two slightly different directions.

Once I went once around with that (this took a whole day) I was able to till under another four inches or so.  Even though the rototiller went deeper, it was a little easier except when I hit a spot when I only grazed the surface the day before.  I'd do a little four foot by eight foot section, the engine would die (the carburetor is really dirty, or that's my guess anyway) and I'd take the opportunity to do a little hoeing and raking to get rid of the balls of grass roots so I'd have less of a chance of the entire section growing back as a spiffy, well-groomed pasture. I'm about a third of the way done. I'd like to say I'm sad that it's too rainy to rototill, but la la la I don't care la dee da dee da I don't have to rototill wee hee hoe.

But eventually I'll have to get back out there, and I trust the rototiller will run better and better as the cleaner we added to the gas starts to work its magic.

What's all this for? I'm going to try to plant a modification of the Three Sisters garden for some of it--corn, beans and squash planted together--and the rest will be corn field.

Planting. There's another thing that sounds easy.

After hauling lines of goat manure onto the pasture and sprinkling it with a special fertilizer I mixed up at the beginning of the year I get to rototill in the goat manure/lime in. Then I get to plant.  That involves hoeing a little trench, running the wheelbarrow down so there aren't all kinds of treacherously deep little holes for the seeds to fall in, then lay down the seed and hoe dirt over it.

Who knew gardening was so 'easy'?

I did set aside a wee section for sunflowers, about 6x6 feet. I always start with such high hopes for sunflowers, only to have them dashed, or rather scratched, by birds.  I usually only have a handful come up out of the many seeds I plant.  But this year, it will be different! That's right, I covered them, and they'll remain covered for about seven days in the hopes that the birds won't be able to get to them. And maybe, once they sprout, the birds will leave them alone.

It all sounds very chancy to me. Maybe I'll find that mosquito netting we have stashed somewhere and put that to use while the sunflowers are just wee seedlings.

Anyway, it's been ten days of gardening. I'm tired. I think I'll go write fiction now.

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