Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tree Gate Farm Shovel-Leaning Party

Ok, so it was really a tree planting party, but you have to love Mark D, and our neighbor Julia's shovel leaning form while supervising Sharon as she digs a hole between our dying evergreen wind block.

We had beautiful weather, and an extremely energetic crew of 8 adults and 4 kids join us this Saturday for a few hours. It was great having friends help dig holes, remove rocks, plant trees, add leaf mulch, cover with cardboard (to reduce weed pressure), top with wood chips and water heavily. The work went so fast, that Sharon and I were having a hard time keeping everyone occupied.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for a nice sunny day of planting. We got ALL of our serviceberry, choke cherries, and red cedars planted (except for the few we potted for reserves). Monday saw Sharon and I planting out 60 high bush cranberries that our friend Scott brought us. He showed up Sunday with a trunk load of  trees left over from a seed/sapling give-away that he was a part of. He brought us white ash, green ash, black ash, white walnut (aka butternut), black walnut, nannyberries (aka sheepberries), and the high bush cranberries. Later, we stopped over at our friends at Red Tail Farm and they had a bundle of black locusts they had been given, and decided they weren't going to plant them afterall... When we get those in the ground it will make a total of 75 black locusts we've planted as well. :-)

I guess I'd better get back out there...only 465 more holes to dig!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Tree Planting

Sorry for the dearth of posts recently. Along with all the usual farm chores, the prepping all the new beds and planting areas we hope to establish this year has been keeping me quite busy. Many of our starts in the hoophouse are popping up, and the typical last frost date is coming up quick (May 10-20 depending on who you ask), so it looks like an even busier few weeks to come. We're having friends over Saturday to help us plant some of the new Tree Gate Farm trees. On the 4th, we held a mini-tree planting party to help get the kinks out while planting 35 black locusts along part of our Western property line. Someday that should provide us with a regular supply of posts/fire wood through pollarding. We'll also mix in some of our cherry and serviceberry trees, and plant some shade loving ground covers and shrubs. Tomorrow we'll be planting choke cherries, washington hawthorns, red cedars, and serviceberries scattered among several of our forest gardening plantings.

If your not familiar with woodland farming or "forest gardening" check out the website of one of my favorite resources: Edible Forest Gardening by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier. As we develop various hedgerows and tree planting clusters we frequently look to these two volumes for ideas on planting combinations and selecting the best species for our goals. I'll post photos after the event.

The tradition of farmers and their families getting together for tackling large chores as a group is as old as agriculture, but inviting today's non-farmers to pitch-in is relatively new outside of CSA membership. The "Crop Mob" effort in North Carolina has gotten some press of late (New York Times) and an Ithaca Crop Mob effort has just been formed, and a bunch of new ones are popping up around the country. Definitely an interesting concept, but we think of our farming effort as still to small to accommodate a large group of relatively untrained helpers. I found a lot of good ideas for hosting a successful event on a blog called "Cricket Bread" by one of the NC Crop Mob members/co-founders. Maybe in the fall we'll host a larger event...