The Weekly Digs #157

by Becky

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I woke up Thursday morning and checked the weather. Around noon it said, “Snow showers”. I had to do a double take. It’s pretty late for snow here in Arkansas. I mentioned it to Cam before he left for work and he didn’t believe me!

Overwintered spinach and kale

He texted me at 1:30pm from work and said, “Well you were right.” With a bunch of snow emojis. Thankfully the snow didn’t stick to the ground but it was cold so I brought my tender seedlings inside our house. That night it was 24ºF.

Today, Saturday we were back up to 65ºF and sunny! 

Oat and pea cover crop. Oats come up first!

In the Garden

I’m so grateful for the sunny warm days where we can spend hours and hours outside. We managed to check off a bunch of to-dos this week in the garden.

#1. Planted tomatoes in soil blocks! They are always fun to plant and Cam kept saying to me, “Eating cherry tomatoes sounds so good right now.” This is the life of seasonal eating. It makes you appreciate when you do have fresh food!

Here’s what we have in so far: San Marzano II, Amish Paste, Roma, Blue Beech. 36 soil blocks of each type 144 paste tomatoes total. This is a lot for me but better to have too many. 

We also planted sunrise bumblebee, bing cherry, black cherry, brandywine OTV, and eva purple ball. All of these made up a 36 block tray. 

#2. I planted flowers in a tray, specifically Sweet Alyssum. I had a panic this week because I thought I was out of the seeds. I scoured every website I usually order seeds from and they were ALL out of stock. Luckily, by a miracle they appeared in my box of flower seeds. I looked twice and hadn’t seen them before but they were there when I went to plant today.

#3. I transplanted the mizuna and the onion seedlings. The onion seedlings that were in the trays in my caterpillar tunnel germinated faster and got large way quicker than my in ground sown batch.

 I covered the soil around the onions (the in ground ones) with some compost but it got thick in places and the onions wilted and looked almost like they froze underneath. That was a lesson I learned this year. It was my first sowing of plants for the year and the garden is teaching me already.

So I filled in all the gaps with the soil block onions. They are looking good otherwise.

#4. The kids and I spent several hours getting out dandelions and wild onions. As you may know, dandelions have a deep taproot so hoeing is not effective. We used our new soil knives and wow they are cool! They work so good, I’m not sure how I got along with out it. The link to the soil knife can be found HERE.

We worked on it almost every day this week, including our snow day. I was looking through my phone and found this candid shot Noelle took on my phone as we were working. 

Turkey Update

Our turkey hen is still diligently sitting on her eggs. From my calculations she has about one week left. 

We have been moving their turkey shelter less often because she is in the brooder box on the ground. And everytime we move the shelter we have to pick up the box and move the whole thing with her in it.

 I’m always nervous that she is going to hop off the eggs when we move the shelter but so far so good. We are moving them again on Monday so hopefully all goes well.

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14 comments

Laura April 3, 2022 - 12:54 pm

Do you do anything special to your onions? Is there anything you use to feed them/fertilize? For some reason the onions I grow never get big. Lots of green, but tiny onions.

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theseasonalhomestead April 4, 2022 - 10:48 pm

Yes, as seedlings I usually use diluted fish emulsion as a fertilizer. Once they get bigger and are in the ground I switch to using blood meal. This year I’m experimenting using a cover crop of crimson clover next to my garlic as a living mulch and nitrogen fixation. They are in the same family so if it works for the garlic, I’ll probably try it next to the onions next year.

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Joanna April 5, 2022 - 11:56 pm

Go check out your Instagram. I sent you a very informal link. I feel it might help out with all of those worms you had trouble with last year with your tomatoes

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Joanna April 3, 2022 - 6:00 pm

I’m so happy to be following you blog ❤️ This one was pretty short but I’m sure you are so busy I’m the garden. Have a great week and I can’t wait for your next video 😂

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PamR April 4, 2022 - 4:47 pm

Not surprised the ones in the more protected tunnel did better. I also am curious about if and how you feed seedlings before planting.

I did a post on what I feed my seedlings:

https://peakd.com/homesteading/@goldenoakfarm/seedling-progress-april-3-2022-goldenoakfar

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theseasonalhomestead April 4, 2022 - 10:54 pm

Hi Pam, I checked out your blog post. You use lots of things I’ve never even heard of! The only thing I’m familiar with is the kelp. What is the benefit of some of the others you use?

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PamR April 5, 2022 - 10:46 am

They have various micronutrients in most of them. Silicon is VERY important for plant health and that’s the Armor Si. The soil I used for the first 2 startings has enough nutrients for about 2 weeks, so that’s why I start feeding 2 weeks after they come up.

I got new soil, developed by John Kempf, this year. He claims it’s complete enough to have stocky sturdy plants in 3 – 4 weeks, ready to plant. I had already adjusted my planting schedule to accommodate this, but used these supplements to get there, usually, but not always. So I will be curious to see how things do this year, with the last 4 of 6 startings.

Pepzyme stimulates the growth and metabolism of plant growth promoting microorganisms to break down organic matter and make soil nutrients such as phosphorus, nitrogen, calcium, iron, and more, available to plants in the forms they can absorb. https://www.tainio.com/product/pepzyme-clear-liquid-biostimulant/

One has to be very careful about adding too much nitrogen (bloodmeal), especially once the soil has warmed up. Too much nitrogen weakens plants, making them more susceptible to pests and diseases. That’s why the huge operations that use only N-P-K fertilizers have to resort to pesticides, etc. You’ve heard about the huge runoffs of nitrogen, creating the dead zone at the end of the Mississippi?

I worked for years, just adding things I’d heard were “good” for various plants when I planted, but no soil testing was done. Decades in, I did a soil test and found my soil severely imbalanced from this practice. It’s taken years to reverse it and I am still working on it.

But my pest and disease load is far lower now and I haven’t used row covers in years.

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Sarah April 4, 2022 - 8:08 pm

Your amount of tomato starts is making me feel validated! I have 110 started of all different varieties. Some of the same ones as you. I am most excited about trying out sunrise bumblebee for the first time.

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theseasonalhomestead April 4, 2022 - 10:20 pm

Sunrise bumblebee is Cameron’s favorite tomato!

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Joanna April 9, 2022 - 2:17 pm

Yesterday I finally learned how to get to your very first blog from when you bought the farm!! I was so excited and afraid of losing my place so I read every single blog from them to now!! 😂😂😂 You know how much I love you all ❤️

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Michelle April 9, 2022 - 8:53 pm

Hi Becky, Thank you for all the great content!
Have you had to deal with eradicating “devil weed?” I am having the worst time with it in my raised beds!

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theseasonalhomestead April 10, 2022 - 4:23 am

Hi Michelle, if you’re talking about Bermuda grass then yes, I’ve dealt with it and in raised beds too. One year I lined my raised beds with plastic to keep it out, only to have it pop right up through.

One way to get rid of it is to remove all the soil and the wood, dig it all out, then put everything back. You also need to make sure the surrounding area is clear of it too.

The other option would be remove all the soil and line the bottom and surrounding area with a ground cover https://www.farmersfriend.com/products/weed-management/ground-cover This would be less than ideal, since it limits root growth to only inside your raised beds. I would only do this as a last resort.

A third option would be to try multiple really dense cover crops in hopes on not allowing it the sunlight it needs to thrive. I have a blog post about cover crops here

I’ve also had great success removing it via a silage tarp. Place it over the raised beds and leave it until it’s dead. You need to have the silage tarp black side up and keep it on while the crop is active in summer for at least a few weeks. I get my silage tarp from the same place I got the ground cover from, linked above.

Good luck!

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Lin April 14, 2022 - 4:19 pm

Hi Becky, your garden is impressive! I love your hat. Any link you can share so I can get one? Thanks. LG

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theseasonalhomestead April 17, 2022 - 3:52 am

Thank you! Here’s a link to the hat- https://amzn.to/3KXg3tW

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