False spring

A false spring

By: Robert Patrick

Lakeside RV Retreat @ Indian Creek Farm



Wow, what a difference a few weeks of warm weather can do for my soul. Many of us outdoor folks are itching to get into the garden and I for one could not wait when those couple of weeks in February warmed up and gave me the hope for an early spring, then the ground hog foretold an early spring, goodness gracious I was filled with the spirit and nothing was going to stop me from an early planting.

We also had a window of opportunity when the rains abated and let the soil conditions get just right to start the tilling and weeding process, wow, I was in heaven, outside, sun shining, the old Horse was running like a top and the tilth of the soil was showing me great progress in my dance with some heavy clay soils.

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 (100 x 12) and was chomping at the bit to get to planting. The no till areas 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 already know, I can’t stop myself from gardening and growing things…lol 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. I covered two large areas, one (65×25) the other (75×40), the soil underneath was in great shape, but I was trying to kill off the single leaf signal grass that has 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 is going to be my tomato garden and I plan on growing 4 types of heirlooms and my favorite (better boys) in large numbers.

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 are going to be planted, this year I hope to not have any grass or morning glories taking over the tomato patch. I’ll be adding a good shovel full of composted manure to each of the tomatoes I plant, kind of like the Indians did when adding fish to the soil at each of their plantings.

Now back to that early spring thing! Wow, I was planting up a storm, got two rows of green beans in the ground (contenders and blue lake bush), planting 5 kinds of squash (butternut, spaghetti, yellow, zucchini and scalloped) and an heirloom melon (canoe creek) it’s a kind of cantaloupe, it grows real big (up to 25lbs) excellent taste too.

I also set up two of the big round bales (bad hay) and am doing a bit of hay bale gardening just for fun. Planted some squash and Kentucky Wonder pole beans on the top of them, thought how cool it would be to have green beans trellising down the sides and have a large pile of compost at the end of the growing season to boot.

Well, can you folks guess what happened…lol FROZE it did, all of them. Dang the luck. Ok, seeds are cheap, I had a great time planting and I have knowledge of how tender baby squash plants are. The first frost did little damage to the green beans in the ground and almost none to those on the hay bales, the squash however was done for, took it out like some nasty brush killer herbicide (no, I do not spray that stuff on my farm, no way never, ever) but I am aware.

Now the second frost/freeze wiped those green beans out and I had them covered with a frost blanket. The blanket was a bit short of the row, so I cover the rest with hay, those with hay faired better but still took damage, a few might make it, but I will replant the whole row next week with the new growth of the moon. Those squash will be replanted as well, along with a few more varieties.

I can’t say I learned my lesson and if given the chance of an early planting I will do it again, to have a full months jump and be the first to harvest is almost like being the guy with the most compost and you gardening folks know the old saying “The gardener with the most compost wins”.

I have been gardening all my life, I can remember being about 5 or 6 and being in the garden with my dad, when I was 8 we moved into the family home in Coldspring, the back lot had been the horse barn back in the day the ground was very fertile, soft loamy soil full of nutrients from the many years of being a barn yard. The barn and the horses were long gone; really no trace other than my dad telling me about it, but that soil was wonderful.

Here at the homestead (Indian Creek Farm) I have been gardening this soil for 18 years, each year adding more compost, sand, silt and more compost. I never use chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers, I will admit, once upon a time I did put out a bag of triple 13, but that was long, long ago. I raise chickens and rabbits, the manure from them both are added to the compost piles of leaves, grass clippings and all the silage from the gardens, then turned into the hay and manures from a wildlife ranch.

I try to raise the best veggies I can. I am not opening my CSA this year, but will be selling in downtown Coldspring on the weekends come about the second week in May, 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 for a special few clients to enjoy my little bit of heaven. I’m a bit picky as I have young fruit trees and gardens to protect, free ranging chickens and such, but the right clients could find themselves a long term RV spot with garden benefits, 6 canoes and a view you might not want to ever leave.

Robert Patrick

Master Gardener

Master Naturalist

Master Forager