Chronicles of the Long Shot Farm

More Excavating and Barn Clean-up

This was a good weekend for spring clean-up work.  We had someone come in and remove all the accumulated metal “stuff”.  All that is left to move now is the old silo.  We also took time to clean up around all the sheds and the barn and we moved more things out of the barn (like the row boat and trailer).

Over the past couple of weeks, Zach has been getting rather good at using the grader attachment for the tractor.  He graded a section of the  old “barnyard” that desperately needed cleaned up;  and he started moving piles of dirt around in what will someday be the parking lot below the barn.

While Zach was moving dirt, Tina found a spot of wineberry plants, which we dug out and moved to the garden before the tractor would destroy them.

Making Space for Niagara Grapes

A few weeks ago we “erased” the small, upper blackberry patch which we had started next to the vegetable garden a few years ago.  We never paid too much attention to this patch, and therefore it never produced many berries.  Within one afternoon, all traces of the trellis and the brambles were gone.  The old rows were plowed and disked, and orange marker paint clearly showed where the new plantings were to go.

The reason for all this destruction was a new order of Niagara grapes, an American white variety of the  Vitis labrusca species.  Similar to Concord grapes, with a typical “grapey, musky” flavor profile.  We ordered 150 plants to give these grapes a try.  We planted them the same way as the Traminettes last weekend, with cardboard and mulch, to keep the weeds at bay.  They have been growing rather vigorously and within a month, healthy, happy grape plants are visible.

The Asparagus Project and More

Last weekend we had snow, and just 7 days later we all have our first sunburn!  It was in the mid 70’s all weekend and we got a LOT of our garden planted.

We started off with tackling the “1000 Asparagus Root”project (yes, Jeff, Jens and Zach decided this was a good idea and promptly ordered 1000 roots).  We planted about 1/4 of them in our garden, but the remaining 750+ roots were planted in Zach and Rachel’s new Asparagus Patch.

For a break, we trimmed grape vines … down to the last few rows of Corot Noir.  These grape vines are nearly as far along as the Concord vines, with imminent bud break.  Luckily we are pruning them last!

The garden is disked, and several rows of plastic with irrigation lines are already laid down.  Getting ready to plant!!  We did get seed potatoes, red beet, carrot, spinach and lettuce seeds….plus some parsley and cilantro plants for the herb garden.  Sadly we ran out of time, and the potatoes will have to wait until next weekend.

Berry Patches Revived

Despite the unseasonable cold weather (and snow), we managed to get a lot of work done on the farm this weekend.  The most important task was to plant the remaining 100  Niagara grapes – so that plot now has 150 grapes in about .5 acres.

We planted 14 new blueberry bushes, slightly enlarging the patch near the barn, and replacing some of the previously planted bushes.  We also applied aluminum sulfate to the blueberry patch, to keep soil acidity low in order for the bushes to thrive.

Our strawberries started shooting leaves over a week ago and the colder weather has not slowed them down.  We cleaned up the patch and then covered it with straw, letting only the new leaves show through.

The elderberry patch also got a good “thinning out”.  They need to be pruned almost like brambles (just not as often).  Old fruiting canes need to be removed so that new canes can grow and bear fruit.  And yes, we are still cleaning up and pruning in the blackberry patch – just two more rows to go!!

Planting Traminette

We had lots of helpers this weekend to plant 200 new Traminette grape vines.  It did not take us that long at all!

Anja and Leif are planting
girls taking a snack break

We stuck to our “proven” method of planting vines, but this year, we surrounded each vine with cardboard (which we had been saving all winter), and then we covered the cardboard with mulch.  Hoping that this will keep the weeds a bay and allow the grapevines a head start.  It certainly looked pretty when we were all done.

Half the vines were grafted, using rootstock #3309, the other half was not grafted.  We’ll try and document the difference in growing habits, disease resistance, winter hardiness etc.