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North field in snow

North field, main garden

The North Field—I think that’s what I’ve taken to calling it; there’s also the South Field and the South Slope—somewhere around two acres including the sloping perimeter, is the main market garden at the new farm. It looks suitably inscrutable under more than a foot of unbroken snow: what does the soil under there have in store? My look-around in November didn’t turn up anything immediately alarming, and that’s mainly what I looked for, things that could make farming these fields really tough. The few handfuls of soil I dug up were a nice clay-loam similar to the old farm. I didn’t find any super-invasive and tenacious quack grass, and the equally troublesome Canada thistle showed up only here and there in the strips beside the fences and paths. So far, so good, but that’s only the most obvious stuff. On the list of a million things to do over the next three months to get ready for the May plant-out, beginning to know the soil and the lay of the land is way up there. We’ll soon find out. For now, I have to wait…



  1. Paul R

    I started reading your blog a few months ago and don’t understand why the new farm. Adding to the old farm to increase yields, or are you getting rid of the old farm?

  2. Bob M

    Since this is ‘virgin’ gardening ground, I’m curious how you will be preparing it for your garden. I’ve had issues with wire worms in soil that was recently sod – and from what I’ve heard that’s a common problem. I now try to work the soil up a year in advance and turn in organic matter (typically composted manure) as soon as possible. Clearly you won’t have that luxury if you’ll be planting in this ground this year. Is there a ‘shortcut’?

  3. Did you get a sense of the soil from the previous owner when you got the land? That is one of the things I’ve been wondering — how do you know what might work/not work where? The new land is a new challenge and a new mystery in some ways it seems…

  4. EtienneG

    Starting from scratch must be very exciting indeed.  I am myself preparing to make the jump into micro-farming.  In fact, my vision so far is *exactly* what you are doing: 2.5 acres, diversified crop, direct marketing (CSA and/or markets), as little mechanization as possible, keeping things simple and doing with whatever capital I have available (not getting into debt).  I am going through your entire blog to give myself a feel of what is involved in such a project, and I must say that your experience (and candor reporting it) is *very* instructive.  I am learning a lot from your experience!

    How are you copping with starting anew?  Are you keeping your current CSA partner base?  Do you expect to keep on with last year production level, or do you plan to give yourself some break while you break new sod?

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