By: Robert Patrick
Lakeside RV Retreat @ Indian Creek Farm
I want to introduce myself, my family has been in San Jacinto County, Coldspring, since the mid 1800’s, one of my forbearers set up and ran the first ferry crossing on the Trinity River way back then (Patrick’s Ferry). My grandfather I. T. Patrick was the county sheriff for about 15 years back in the 30’s and 40’s, my Dad; T. T. Patrick raised me and my two siblings on the banks of the trinity at my uncle Roberts hay farm that stretched out down along the river. Seems I was something of a river rat when I was a young boy and I enjoyed endless days with my dad on the banks of the Trinity, then we got the Lake, I watched as the landscape changed, the water rose and I lost my childhood playground, ah the nature of change…J Jump forward 40+ years!
Here we are at April 11, 2013, working our way into May and wow, I would have not thought I would have seen the temp drop this low. The wind chill is down in the 30’s here on the banks of Lake Livingston. With that front blowing in we got a blessing and a curse, as an outdoor worker, rain is the life blood of my gardens and we got another doosey last night and this morning, it also keeps me from doing much of the work I perform for the owners of the wildlife ranch I part time on.
I hope that as time marches forward I will be able to share with you the readers a snapshot of my life as an outdoor worker, Master Naturalist, Master Gardener and Forager. I will be sharing information, telling stories (all true) about what its like to have the privilege and opportunity to spend the majority of my life in the great outdoors, from foraging wild foods from the forests and fields to working on a exotic wildlife ranch here in east Texas and the trials and tribulations of being a working truck farmer. I may drop in a bit about the custom tables I build from time to time or the 3 RV spots for those special few, but this will be mainly about life lived on the land. So, with all that said lets get to what the spring of 2013 has brought and what might be in store for the Month of May.
It has been one heck of a spring, a warm start, then a light frost, more warmth, then a freeze, I had to replant twice all of my veggies and I had thought I was way ahead of the game, only to be at the place now of being behind by about two weeks. Last nights prediction of 39 degrees was a bit of a surprise and even though it was not a killer, that cold snap will have a dampening effect of the plants growth. I will have to say we have had a good start in the rain category; I did use the water hose when planting a number of the veggies, making sure the seeds got a good dose of moisture for the sprouting process, but I have not had to water any of the gardens for plant growth.
I had been working through the late fall and winter on several large no till garden spots, a hugh by most standards new lasagna compost garden bed and was chomping at the bit to get to planting. In the early fall I covered two large spots with some chip material, these will be no till areas and may give me a bit of nitrogen drain as the material I used was not 100% fully decomposed, but well on its way and as you might have already guessed, I can’t stop myself from gardening and growing things. Last year when the power company was having the high line’s cleared I was able to get those crews to drop off the chipped material from all the limbs and trimmings here at the farm, got me 14 loads.
Knowing that the forest floor is the richest soil profile in all the land, I just had to have as much as I could find room for and it is not going to disappoint I am sure. I should have turned the piles more often, but then I can only do so much. There are two large areas, one (65×25) the other (75×40), the soil underneath is in great shape, but I am trying to kill off the single leaf signal grass, Johnson grass and the morning glories that have been so gracious to cover my gardens in the past couple of years, got to send that stuff packing if I can.
The larger of the two spots has turned out to be my tomato garden; I am growing 4 types of heirlooms and my favorite (better boys) in large numbers, 140 plants in all.
As the cold winds of winter were blowing I was transporting old spent hay and some super rich manure to the farm, this is how I am going to hope to overcome the possible nitrogen deficiency where the tomatoes were planted, this year I hope to not have any grass or morning glories taking over the tomato patch. I added a good shovel full of composted manure to each of the tomatoes I planted, kind of like the Indians did when adding fish to the soil at each of their plantings. I also added an egg to each of the planting holes when I planted my tomatoes, I’ve got chickens as you may have surmised and sometimes I have a surplus of eggs, so why not improve the soil in a natural manner if possible.
The large lasagnas garden spot I built with old moldy hay and manure is now sporting a good number of cucurbits (squashes, melons) it turned out to be 100ft x 12ft and stands 24in high for most of its length, this will be a boon for the garden and increase the numbers of produce I will harvest this year. It’s doing well, and would have been better had it not been for the heard of chickens that love to scratch the ground, they have dug up a number of the seedlings; chickens love to dig around and at the edge of just about anything and can find fresh soil/dirt anywhere. The couple of rows of black berries are a prime example, those chickens can’t help but pull the mulch back away from them in search of grubs, worms or bugs, they dig it out, I rake it back, it’s a back and forth game. My chickens get some protein feed, they had been free to roam the farm but its time to clip those wings and keep them out of the gardens. I for sure don’t want them finding the tomatoes.
This morning before releasing the chickens from their roost I trimmed their wings so they can no longer get to the gardens. I also noticed I was shy one rooster, guessing a varmint or hawk made off with him, sometime things happen and you will have no clue.
With the chickens not being able to do any more damage around the garden, I did a replant on the cucurbit patch, the chicken dug up about 20% of what was planted. Now I will have a new crop making when some of the old is petering out.
With the freezes out of the way (I PRAY) I should be able to count on all the plants producing that are up now, sometime close to May 15th I should have lots of good veggies for sale at the courthouse square in downtown Coldspring, so those who want to meet their farmer, come on out, in the first few weeks, green beans, tomatoes and squash will be the majority of what’s available. It’s a Saturday and Sunday thing and if I sell out on Saturday, I won’t be around on Sunday.
This first in a series of articles is a bit bumbled I realize, I wanted to get a few threads of thought started, so when next months article comes out you will have a basis to start from, then again, it could be just as jumbled. If it’s outdoors, I may have something to say about it, as I love the great outdoors.
I try to raise the best veggies I can and I look forward to meeting some new folks who enjoy the blessings of home grown foods.
Just an aside, I have 3 RV spots here at the lakes edge. A special few clients may enjoy my little bit of heaven. The spots aren’t for everyone and I’m a bit picky as I have young fruit trees and gardens to protect, chickens, rabbits and such, but the right clients could find themselves an RV spot with garden benefits, 6 canoes and a view you might not want to ever leave. If anyone wants to get in touch, use the contact form on the farms website. http://www.indiancreekfarm.co