The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Month: March 2014

C’mon Spring!

Snow melting off raised beds

Tractor Hunt

Ivar Riding Tractor

My friend Ben manages a landscaping business and let me borrow his Kubota sub-compact tractor. I fell in love. What used to take me 4 hours of back-breaking manual labor could be done in 20 minutes at the helm of this beautiful machine. Unfortunately, I couldn’t persuade Ben to sell.

My brother-in-law once told me: “Don’t be one of those guys who waits 10 years to buy a tractor and then wishes he had bought one 10 years ago.” I’m inclined to agree. So I take with great seriousness the occasion of finding a tractor. But where do I start?

Have you ever been to a farm auction? If you don’t already know everything about the machine or implement you want to buy, including its fair market price, you might end up with a 6-ton paper weight.

There’s the local tractor dealer. But buying new just doesn’t seem right, especially when I won’t be production farming for a profit.¬†Craigslist and classifieds leave me in a similar lurch as the farm auction. Since I’ve never owned a tractor, I don’t know which questions to ask the seller, or how to spot a lemon.

So that pretty much leaves the one option that works quite well, if you have the patience: word of mouth. I’ve started “putting the word out” to friends in the area. Apparently there’s a guy down the road that’s got a reputation for finding tractors. I’ve been assured he’s the one to talk to. Never would have known tractor hunting was a skill, but now I do because I know I don’t have it.

I’m used to being able to find everything I need on a store shelf. But it doesn’t work that way out here. They don’t sell tractors at The Home Depot. Out here, relationships are the cash crop.

Garden Layout 2014

After much deliberation, consideration, and consultation, we’ve settled on the following plans for our 2014 vegetable garden. For now.

Garden layout for this year

In the big plot (25-foot E-W rows, in order from north to south):

  1. Sweet peas, 2 rows (trellised)
  2. Corn, 4 rows
  3. Tomatoes, 1 row (caged)
  4. Cucumber (caged) & Eggplant, 1 row
  5. Bush beans, 1 row
  6. Peppers (mixed), 1 row
  7. Potatoes, 2 rows
  8. Sweet potatoes, 2 rows
  9. Leeks, 1 row
  10. Onions, 2-3 rows
  11. Shallots, 1 row
  12. Garlic, 1-2 rows
  13. Beets & Turnips, 1 row
  14. Carrots, 1 row
  15. Parsnips, 1 row
  16. Squash, 1 row
  17. Pumpkin, 1 row

In raised beds (front four)

  • Tulips (Fall planted)
  • Zinnia

In raised beds (back four)

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Asparagus
  • Green Onion (?)
  • Strawberries (2 beds)

Across from Raspberries

  • Blueberries

Back 10 (north-east area)

  • Apple orchard ~ 8-12 honeycrisp


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