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Those of you with farms and homesteads know about “those places.” Those places where all the extra wood gets tossed. Or metal. Or fencing. Or spare tractor parts. Or… Yeah, you know those places.
One of those places has always been along the north side of our well house. Over the years it has gathered metal poles and wood. Once in a while when we make a dump run, we’ll grab what we can, but it’s always had something there.
Every year when the snow melts I vow to get it cleaned out, but homestead life just moves so fast that I can never get it all.
Until this year.
I had a couple mornings when I got up earlier than normal and just got it all loaded up on a trailer.
It felt so good to get it out of there.
But then…there was a problem.
I’m not sure why, but I suppose I was expecting grass to be underneath it all. I thought it would blend nicely with the rest of the yard in that area.
Instead, it was an area of rich, beautiful soil (though this picture doesn’t do it justice).
Why is that a problem? Two reasons.
First, anyone with good soil understands the value of keeping it fed—and that means planting it before weeds set in and take over. But I wasn’t ready for that.
I know it sounds crazy, but the second reason this was a problem is because I’m the kind of person who has to think about things for a long time before knowing exactly what I want and then implementing it. I hadn’t had any time to think about what to do with this area.
If you aren’t OCD, you probably don’t understand.
I didn’t have time to make this area chicken proof, dog proof, cat proof, deer proof, etc. But I couldn’t just let the weeds take over.
I knew with our short season I’d have to do something quick, so I started to think of what I could put out there that the animals wouldn’t disturb and I would have the time and resources to take care of.
I always have a lot of plant starts in the greenhouse to tuck in various areas, so I let the kids pick out 4 pumpkins to fill the 5 x 20 foot area and got them into the ground.
In general, deer don’t like the texture of pumpkin leaves, and usually leave them alone–once they are big enough.
To protect the young seedlings, I took the milk jug tops I was done using from my main preservation garden and used them as greenhouses over each plant. This will also help them to grow as the average day here is in the 70s in June.
I used a straw mulch around the pumpkins because, quite honestly, I don’t plan on giving them much attention. I don’t really plan to weed or really water them too much.
Watering them with our passive water system means less water for something else—so I’m not willing to make that commitment.
And weeding—with a one year old & other small children? I’ll reserve weeding for my flower gardens and vegetable gardens. I may rake the mulch back, run the double wheel hoe with sweeps through to kill the weeds and then rake the straw mulch back. But nothing more than that once or twice.
(See my review of the Hoss Wheel Hoe and various attachments here.)
I got a straw bale out, cut the strings, and then got busy with something else. By the time I’d got back, the chickens had found it and pretty much decimated it, giving me minimal work. All I had to do was a little raking.
Later, with more chicken “help,” I realized I was going to have to do something to contain the straw to the area. We got some old (well loved) chicken wire and 3 t-posts. We used our homemade post pounder to put the posts in and stapled the two sides of the fence to the well house.
It doesn’t keep the kittens out, but so far the chickens have given up on tormenting the little plants.
When the plants got a little bigger, I reached over with a rake and pulled the milk jugs off.
I’m hoping for the best, but we’ll see how they turn out.
What would you do with an extra rich source of soil you didn’t know you had?