Friday, August 5, 2011

Wheat field coming in

Since the Beautiful Wife asked if we could grow wheat, I have been working on getting a plot of land near the house, in the "new" garden area, to accommodate a small field of winter wheat.  The soil here is mostly a sandy loam, with chico and greasewood as the predominate plants (you can see them in almost all of my pictures.  They stretch for miles and miles)

This picture shows the start of the project.  As you can see, I started by throwing the muck from the barn onto the top of the hardpan soil.  This will keep the soil moist when I start to water it.  Usually, the water just evaporates off, or soaks the first inch and then no further.  And it adds nutrients to the soil when I plow it under.

Another view, showing the rest of the field.  After mucking the barn, I had only enough muck to cover 2/3 of the field.  Next week, I hope to have most of the covered field tilled and will be able to finish throwing muck on the field.  Keeping it wet is important, and I have been outside, watering the hay, at least once every hour until I can till it under.

Even after soaking the field several times, the water only penetrates about 4 inches.  This makes the first 4 inches a pleasure to dig in, but after that, it's almost like concrete.  To help it along, I drive my shovel in as far as I can to make an opening, then soak the field.  From the picture above, you can see the shovel marks on a patch of field.

After a hot afternoon, this is all I've done.  It takes a long time to work my way across.  I water the field every morning in the hopes that the water will penetrate and stay in that first foot of soil.  We finally put some fence posts in to surround the entire garden and discovered that the groundwater level right now is only 4 feet below the ground.  Good news if I decide to put a sand point well in the new greenhouse.  

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