We finished getting the fruit trees in the ground this evening. These trees arrived from Fedco Trees at the end of March. Apple trees, cherry trees, plum trees, and one peach tree that is supposed to be good to zone four (the USDA zone we are located in). When the trees arrived, the snow had nearly melted but that would not last. It snowed, it melted, and so on. We had our last snow a couple weeks ago; the daytime air temperature went into the low 70s F for a couple days only to seesaw back to having frost at nights. But, we seem to be modulating back into a range with its low end above freezing at night; tomorrow the daytime temperature, unfortunately, is forecast to be in 90s. As an aside, Greg Laden had an interesting blog post titled, “Why is winter not ending?” It is a semi-sciencey read; and the reason for completely bizarro weather is, with little shock, climate change. (cue music; maybe the Scorpions)
Over the weekend, Melissa and I more or less finished up the vegetable garden. I had started last Friday with getting fence posts into the ground around the garden; luckily, we had had a late snow (early May) that was wet and heavy. I say luckily mostly joking because it meant a lot of cleanup work for me.
We had several larger trees get taken down, but this allowed me to repurpose the tree trunks. Instead of bucking them up into logs for burning this next winter, I cut them into eight feet long lengths – a relatively standard length for fence posts.
The trees that fell with the heavy snow fall – poplar, pine and buckthorn – are green and fresh, but they will eventually rot. If we can get three to five years from these tree-posts around the garden, the bit of effort that went into getting them into the ground will likely have been worth it.
Along with getting the vegetable garden seeded this weekend, we headed to Racine, MN, again. We have four beehives down there, and I wanted to make sure that the bees looked like they were doing their bee-things around the hives.
The hives looked good. There was activity at all of the hives. Bees also appear to be leaving the horses to their own horse-business and not bothering them. The hives Racine, are in the corner where horse pasture and a field which will be planted with hay (this year) meet. Behind the hives is a small fenced in run with a small stable; this is where Trigger the miniature pony resides.
In addition to the hives in Racine, we have four hives at the house here in Saint Paul. We laid the groundwork for them this last winter. Saint Paul allows hives, but requires a rather time intensive permitting process. If owning beehives had been enshrined in the constitution, it is almost guaranteed there would be little if any bumps-in-the-road to having them. Luckily, our lot is large, as is our neighbors’ lots. This reduced the number of neighbors we had to get signatures from to only five of the six. While we were getting the permit for honey bees, we tossed in a permit application for keeping chickens. The hens have been hanging out in a brooder, in our basement, for a little over three weeks now.
Back on the farm in Racine, while we were there, we dug up flat of strawberry plants and two large rhubarb plants. These, subsequently, ended up in our new vegetable garden. The strawberries will likely need some active curation, else we will eventually end up with a large patch of strawberries and little room for vegetables.
Perhaps, someday, we will opt for an enormous, un-curated patch of strawberries, but, not at this time. I am quite pleased with the how we were able to get the garden plot carved out of the yard; it was no small feat. It started with a stretch of mild weather in the last November – we were able to get the grass and moss that had been residing there turned over before the snow landed and before the ground froze.
This was also the time when we got a variety of garlic cloves into the ground. Now, in the spring, seeing the garlic begin to sprout, it makes me smile. Prior to leaving Proctor and even prior to the general idea of possibly leaving Proctor for a new life in the big cities – late fall of 2011 – we had carved out a nice patch of garden space next to the house, and we planted many, many cloves of garlic. Sadly, for that garlic, we sold the house several months before it would be ripe. That, likely, will not be the fate of the garlic this go around.
All that said, with the new fruit trees in the ground (and our existing fruit trees nearly ready to flower), the vegetable garden is nearly complete (we have a flat of celery sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers that need to be weather-harden slightly more), the honeybees (with the exception of the hives we over wintered near Duluth) all set for the beginning of the season, and the project I work on for my job is in a good place for break, I am ready for a short vacation.
And, I nearly forgot to mention, this fall, I will officially be a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. Something to do with that field that is closely aligned with my profession, but rarely is written about here on this blog.