We still have a lot of work until all trees have a new layer of hay or straw
Last year when we made hay but the rake was not adjusted right. Because of that our hay is extreme dusty. Therefore we will use this hay for the garden. We still have two rows of fruit trees to give a nice mulch layer around there feet, so we started with those. We rolled out a bale of hay right beside a row of fruit trees and gave these trees a nice thick layer of hay. We also gave the mulch around the trees and bushes we planted in the fall a nice fresh up. Lucky me, I had 3 small helpers.
We needed a new bale of hay for the second row of fruit trees. What was left of this bale, I used for the 3 hill beds from last year. Last fall we did 2 hill beds with hay and one hill bed with an entire bale of straw (See Post: Our late potato harvest). The strong winds blew the hay aside a little and the layer was in some places not thick enough any more. So here and there the grass grew trough the hay, but also the small left potatoes stuck up there heads here and there (the pictures are 3 weeks old). With the straw (at the right) that is not the case. The layer of straw is thick enough.
So I ripped out the grass and divided an extra layer of hay over the hill beds. After that my husband mowed around the hill beds and I divided also a thick layer of hay around the beds and at the fruit trees there. Since our move is postponed I want to plant pumpkins here and they grow long and in all directions, so it would be difficult to mow around. A big mulched surface is better for this. And the pumpkins stay cleaner this way. The bale of hay was used up and I finished around the hill beds with little square bales. This hay was still very good, but dusty hay. The colour was still fresh somewhat green. That is the difference in colour you can see on the pictures.
So happy to finish this so far. When there is some more time we need to freshen up the mulch around all of the trees and bushes we planted last fall, but for now we have to take care of the vegetable garden first.
Snow on our potato bed and frost. Will the potatoes be OK?
We did not get to harvesting our last potato bed and then we had snow and frost. I was worried the potatoes would get damage from the cold and that the mice would find them and eat them. This is a picture after the snow melted. As you can see there is not much covering the potatoes. The straw mulch has for the bigger part decomposed and left the potatoes partly uncovered. So I had already seen that there are a lot of green potatoes to throw out.
After I started to harvest I found that these potatoes had grown very well. These potatoes gave us the best yield of all the potatoes we had grown this year and I am very happy I got to harvesting them.
Halfway through the harvest my husband started on the other rows where we had grown potatoes to pile up the beds again, so we can cover them before winter comes.
Going on with the harvest I pulled these potatoes out of the ground on only 1 1/2 meters double row potatoes. For the last meter our little one came to help and we found an even greater abundance.
While harvesting I found 2 mice nests in the potato bed and I found only 2 potatoes damaged by the mice. So the mice did not do much damage. But with 5 cats on the property there can not be many mice here. And even our dogs dig for the mice.
To cover the beds we will use hay this time. We have hay that has been rained on several times, because it sits beside the door of our barn. Only recently we got doors for our barn, but this hay has gone bad already. Normally we would not use hay, because that is food for the animals, but this time we can experiment with hay in comparison to straw.
My husband brought the hay with the tractor and finished prepairing the beds.
Meanwhile we collected all of the potatoes out of this one bed in the wheel barrow. We got the wheel barrow almost completely filled out of about 6 meters bed with 2 rows of potatoes.
Our children helped me divide the hay over the beds. We had enough to cover 2 beds properly. The 3th bed will be covered with straw, but we did not get to that on this day.
The idea with these 3 beds is to compare if there is a difference in reaction by covering with hay or straw and to see what these beds do next year. We are moving coming spring and will not plant anything in these beds, but by our experience in the last 2 years the very small potatoes that are left in the ground will sprout and give a nice yield. We hope that will happen with these beds also and we can come next fall and harvest some potatoes. We will see what pests will do and if there are many weeds. We will keep you informed.
What my husband and son also did on this day was collect all of the plants in containers and put them together on a some what protected spot to hopefully come over the winter good.