With reasonably favorable weather this week, I was able to get the bed ready for spring brassicas. This will be another no-dig no-till bed, covered with woven weed barrier fabric. I had great luck with growing the spring and fall brassicas this way last year, and hopefully that will continue in 2023. Before putting down the fabric, I mowed down the annual weeds that were coming up and amended the soil with compost and fertilizer. I blended the fertilizer based on my most recent soil test, and it included measured amounts of things like blood meal, kelp, rock phosphate and minor elements like manganese sulfate and borax. I spread everything on top of the bed without digging it in or otherwise disturbing the soil structure.
The weed barrier is a piece I used last year for the same crops, with about half brassicas on one end and half bush squashes on the other. I am securing the material along the edges with galvanized metal landscape staples, which should last through several seasons of use in my experience.
I’m using corrugated cardboard along the side of the weed fabric to keep down weeds. This is an experiment to see if the ease of use justifies the cost. My wife and I save cardboard for use as mulch, but the sizes are not uniform and many are just too big to use for this purpose. The product I’m using comes on a roll, and seems to do the job well. I put it under the edge of the fabric before securing with pins.
When I made holes in the fabric last year it was my first time doing so, and I started out using a pair of scissors to make slits for planting. That proved to be tedious, and I wound up using a small culinary torch to cut narrow cut the holes for the rest of the planting. The heat keeps the edges from fraying, and I find it actually easier than using scissors for the task. I’m going back over those early cuts with the torch to make round holes like the others.
Next it was time to get the plants in the ground. Since broccoli and cabbage are pretty heavy feeders, I added a bit more organic fertilizer in the planting holes and mixed it in a bit. These seedlings were started about six weeks ago, and are at the size I like. I’m planting directly from the plug flat they were started in, using my metal widger to get the plant out without disturbing the roots.
I set out eight broccoli plants, including Artwork, Jacaranda, Melody and Burgundy. And I set out eight cabbage plants (quick Start, Green Presto and Sweet and Tender), following by 14 of the big Kossak kohlrabis. I watered everyone in, and now we will wait for everyone to get growing.
I hope you have enjoyed this update on the happenings from Happy Acres!