Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The G Train To Coeymans

The G train -that's the Garlic train. And Coeymans -that's a neighboring town and I like how it sounds. Say it with me - Kwee-minz. I suppose you could go as far as Koo-ee-mahnz, but then everyone would know you ain't from round here.

Upslope, view towards neighbor, and possible future growing location.

I tried, really I did -with that tiller back there. The soil was too wet from historic rains and heavy under thick sod. I couldn't even push it. I throw praise upon two tools: my handy forged spade which delivered the heavy clumps above, and the Toro Wheel Horse that clobbered them with the tiller attachment.

The soil on site is a near-perfect sandy loam. Not one stone, nearly zero grubs, and plenty of earthworms. The site has a triangle of large trees surrounding it, all which sent roots into the open expanse. I severed those with my spade. Sorry trees, this is farming, small time as it is.

Fortunately I didn't sever this young turtle who caught my eye as he traversed the newly tilled plot. After I put it in the woods, it looked at me sidelong. I also had neighborly run-ins with a hawk, white-tail deer, and a fox. And several ticks. I will not enter the woods again to search for mushrooms. Repeat.

The plot in mid-morning shade. They say it will be full sun in season (I have some doubt, but it will probably be enough given the harvest is in July). The square in the center was requested to be set aside should the owners decide to plant a vegetable garden next spring. Two four-foot wide paths will enter from opposite sides. The plot, minus the center square, totals roughly 1200 square feet. If that were a NYC apartment, we would call it huge. No matter, it is large enough to plant all my remaining garlic this year.

The cultivar tags, color-coded to identify variety. As insurance, the plot will also be mapped. I bought straw at Agway, then bought more at a local grower. Price difference? Fifty percent less at the local grower. Lesson learned. An old woman came out to collect the money, saying that this might be the last year they hay and straw. It's a lot of work she said, and they were nearing 80. I think I will go get some more.

I asked her to explain the difference between hay and straw, even though we understood in general that hay feds animals and is weedy and straw is bedding and is less weedy. Straight from the farmer: straw is the remaining dry stems of cultivated grains (oats, barley, rye) that have been threshed for their seeds. Hay is most often grass (rye, timothy) although sometimes legumes (alfalfa, clover). It tends to be greener than the drier straw, and, not threshed, it has many seeds (that we will later call weeds). And so it is that we buy bales of straw to mulch our garlic beds.

Up next: my visit with Professor Cheng of the ESAC at Brooklyn College.


  1. Wow. That's very exciting. So much space! And serious labour...eep.

  2. Don't let a few ticks keep you from hunting for mushrooms! Just tuck those pants into your socks and do a full body search when you get home. I had lyme disease last summer, but I won't let that keep me out of the woods. Or Central Park.

  3. LN, Get home? I was barely out of the woods four feet and I looked down and there were 7 ticks hightailing it up my pants! I think their woods is particularly infested. Generally I walk away mostly free of ticks.

    I'm sorry you had lyme. A friend just got it, but caught it in time.


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