Agriculture


I spend the morning doing the first garden garden maintenance this year. I don´t really like working in the garden when the soil is too wet, it sticks to much. I’ve picked up some weeds and made it a bit ready for spring to come.  I noticed some of the plants coming to life. In the warmer parts of the garden the roses where getting leaves all ready. And here are few of the crocus bulbs popping up.

And here is are some yellow ones. Personally I like the purple ones better.

Rubarb is also one of the earliest plants, when the leaves are still folded they look like little green brains.

And here is our rooster, he has been working on the vegetable patch eating weeds and worms. Having the time of their life now that the can run around free. Soon they´ll have to be locked up, when the seeds go into the ground.

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When we moved too our current house, one of the first plants we put was a white flowering climbing rose. Back then the rose was not even 1 meter tall. Within 6 years the rose grew 5 meters high and covering  a whole corner of our house. At least twice a year I have to prune it back, not only to keep it in some sort of shape but also to make sure we can reach our front door. I usually use a long ladder put against the house and cut the branches from there. This is done paying a price in blood, I look like I fought of a horde of jaguars.

I already looked at the huge plastic telescopic pruning shears they sell at gardening groceries, but they all came close to €100, and I thought it was a bit steep. But 2 weeks ago there was a garage sale in a neighbourhood near our house and I found this, for €3.

Beautiful simple construction, you lock the hook thingy around the branch and pull the cord. I really like the curled up spring, that moves the blade back, when you release the cord. 

Now that the blade is sharpened it works very well especially on rose shoots which are not woody. But I’ve cut a 1 cm think wooden branch without problem.  You can take the blade apart from the hook by unscrewing the nut, making it easy too sharpen. I think that is key with this type of shears, since seems to be much lighter in construction then the modern ones. The modern ones seem to rely more on blunt force then a sharp blade.

Now I have to find a pole long and strong enough to reach up to the roof, I’ve put the shears on a 1.8m broomstick now, but I need at least 4 meters. I have to make something that I can take apart for storage or when I don’t need to cut so high.

I don’t know exactly how old this would be, I would guess somewhere round the fifties. But that is an uneducated guess, I could as well say forties. It does not have any brand name or makers stamp and it looks kind of industrial. I like the way it looks, it works very well for me (always better than bloodied on the ladder), so all in all €3 well spent. I rarely feel that way after spending money. 

Here I’m using it for the pruning the grapes, wich we are not going to eat (again). The cold weather is causing them not to ripen and they are super acid, but the chickens seem to like em.

Our new organic de-weeding units perform very well, they eat almost everything. They seem to have a preference for rotten fruits and dandelion, which is good we have lots of that. They also really liked rotten tomatoes. It became more fun to de-weed. Everything you pull out becomes a play, will it be eaten or not and with what amount of enthusiasm. And most of the time it will be eaten. For the maximum amount of excitement and running about, I throw in some snails in the coop.

Here is the business end of the de-weeder.

Doing very well too are the poppies, we have had tons of flowers, and now we have tons of seed pods. Not only we can get opium (biological!) from the seed-pots, which is nice,  but we can also use the seeds for baking and poppyseed oil. These large amount of poppies do attract some unwanted visitors tough.

Unwanted visitors.

Tomorrow we get two chickens, who are going to be our gardeners. Also they have to take care of leftover food and produce an egg or two in the mean time. Mrs wife is not completly conviced about this project, but Sebastián can’t wat until the chickens arrive.

This is the arc we made for them, it is also called a chicken tractor. The Idea is that every couple of days we place the arc at a new spot so they can eat, scratch the soil and poo throughout the garden. Leaving me more time to lay in the hammock, which is something I have not done much this year.

I’ve made the arc using leftover wood from the atelier and a couple of old window frames. Most of the parts are recycled or just thing that I allready had laying aroud gathering dust.

Note the retractable ramp so the chickens are safe at night, I can pull a string on the side and the ramp goes up.

As you can see the main framework is done. Now I’m going to put larch planks, that still have to have their own little support frame. The larch planks should have arrived today but somehow the delivery got mixed up their are coming tomorrow with 250 meters off larch.

I got distracted with our other project, the edible garden, we already planted trees in the beginning of the year, now we have removed the grass and put a fence so the dog does not run all over the place. This is only half of the edible garden, the other half is on the other side, I need to make some pictures of that later.
Seba is playing hide and seek and Olaf is enjoying some leftovers from the atelier.

00afrikaantjes

Our vegetable patch is more and more looking like a marigold (Tagetes patula) plantation, although it looks very nice and colourful, some of them are getting a bit out of hand. Half a meter wide and about the same height. There won’t be any roundworm alive in the earth after this attack!

Serious, the reason for the Marigolds in the garden is roundworms. Roundworm, nematodes for scientists, are little worms that live everywhere. Soil, water, roots, animals and humans; they are all over the place. You can’t see them with your own eyes but under a microscope you will find up to 50 in a cubic centimetre of soil. In a square meter of soil there are up to 10 million of them.

According to wikipedia there are 80.000 known species of roundworms and there are and estimated 500.000 different species. One group of this half a million, targets the roots of plants, specially perennials but also potatoes, eggplants and tomatoes. Against these roundworms you can use the marigolds, it is not that the worms are scared away by them. Although everything looks peaceful there is an underground war going on.

Some science for the other geeks: the inner skin of the roots (endodermis) of the Marigolds contains chemicals called thiophenes. When a roundworm enters the cells of  this inner skin, it forms peroxidase. The combination of this peroxidase and the thiophenes create O3 (ozone), this aggressive form of oxygen burns the roundworm. So far for the peaceful vegetable patch.

The bee doesn’t care about any of this and comes for very different reasons to the Marigolds.

00bee

This is a Lanz Bulldog, a well known type of tractor from before and until just after WWII, it is a 1 cylinder diesel engine with a flywheel. It could not only run on diesel but also on petrol and other cheaper and dirtier fuels.

Lanz Bulldog

Before the introduction of tractors like this German beast, there where lots of other transport types, also ones that where a lot more silent. Like these pulling horses, one of them has an alternative way of harvesting.

horses

For those with less money there is another option, this dog cart. These dogs are specially bred for the purpose, this is a Bernese Mountain Dog. Dog carts are nowadays forbidden in the Netherlands, only exceptions are made for demonstration purposes.

hondenkar

Dogs where not only used buy farmers, De Dutch Post used dog carts for small package delivery until 1922. During the call to arms in WWI the dutch army had around 1200 pulling dogs in voluntary service. They where used for pulling Automatic gun carts, munition carts and tool carts. On the picture you see the only automatic gun of the Dutch army then, it is still in use but now pulled by a bike because of the dog law.

Gun

Not only dog where used but also goats, this particular one is very chic though.

four goat drive

In the end, nothing is better and muscle power, looks like a normal bike….

ploeg1

But I’ve never seen this before….

plow bike

If anybody has more info about this bike, I’d like to hear.

Most of the pictures are taken at “oude ambachten in Einighausen Limburg”

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