P+M Upstate Adventure: Removing Grass and Turning Soil for Garden
January Tomato Harvest…. WHAT?!

P+M Upstate Adventure: Removing Grass and Turning Soil for Garden

In case you missed it, Matthew and I bought land in Upstate NY! You can follow the entire series here.   Now we’re ready to work!

Buying land was the result of wanting a garden that came with no rules.   So it’s no surprise that the first thing to build on the land is a garden!  It’s funny to think about where the garden started from.  In 2009 it was 32 square feet and then it became a few hundred square feet, getting bigger by the year.  Now it has a few acres to grow!   

The future garden is 56×40.  That’s huge!   We started smaller but I complained it wasn’t big enough so we expanded another few feet (thanks Matthew!).  Now that I can stand inside the garden space I realize how big it is and how many plants it would take to fill up the area.   Maybe I went a little crazy, but at least we have room to grow!  

It’s hard to figure out what steps to do first when you’re starting from the beginning (and in Winter).   I suppose our steps could have been in a different order to make things easier on us, but with us spending sporadic weekends up there and wanting to use the equipment when we have it to avoid extra rental day costs we’re doing things as we can.  For example, over Thanksgiving we put in the fence posts because the weather was nice and we had a free weekend.  Now that the posts are up, there’s no way a truck is going to be able to empty soil/compost into it easily when Spring is here.  That means they will have to dump it nearby and we’ll have to move it into the garden ourselves.  It’s extra work, but we think in the end it’s going to make the process completed quicker.  Plus to be honest, the process is sometimes much more fun than the complete project.  

With the garden being the first thing we want completed we wanted to get a jump on turning the soil.  We rented a skid steer for a weekend to remove the top layer of grass and turn the soil under neath.  We are in the Catskills so we knew it was going to be rocky but we weren’t sure how rocky it was going to be.  Our land is former farm land, but it sure is rocky too.  Over the next few visits we’ll be removing as many as the rocks as we can.  There’s lots of rocks. I guestimated millions.   There’s no way we are going to be able to remove all the rocks, but there are some big ones (that I can’t even lift) that need to be removed as well as endless smaller ones.  The goal is for every rock that’s larger than a tennis ball to be removed.  You might think this sounds easy, but there’s tons of rocks and we dug deep to turn the soil… so rocks are everywhere. I see them in my nightmares!   I tried to find a easier way to do this but without some heavy duty farm equipment, it seems by rake and hand is easiest.  You’ll see me sitting in the dirt often in the next few months.  It might look like I’m not doing anything but I really am!  I’m going to become a expert rock picker.   The rocks are going to be used to line the exterior of the garden too, we’re trying to give back to the land whatever we dig up.  We think lining the outside of the garden with rocks will help keep pests from digging into the garden.  Since we won’t be able to guard the garden on a daily basis we’re trying to protect it however we can.  It’s going to be a learning process with some heartbreak involved. 

In the pictures below you’ll see our garden posts up.   I’ll be doing a whole series on how we built our garden fence.  Right now the fence posts are in (hard work).  Next, the fencing material and wood needs to be attached to make a complete fence.  This is going to take time, some friends and some hopeful warmer days.  I’ll be documenting all the steps so by end of Spring you should see a entire DIY fence post coming!  

Now let’s first see the damage we did over the weekend.  

Removing Grass For Garden_38

Removing Grass For Garden_36

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January Tomato Harvest…. WHAT?!

Yup, the title is correct.  We picked tomatoes in January.   It’s crazy!

If you live in the Northeast then you probably have witnessed this confusing “Winter” weather.    Usually in November you can feel the weather start to change but this year it didn’t hit.  Then December came and I thought “Well, now it’s going to feel like Winter”.  And on a few days, it did.  But the majority of the days did not feel like Winter.  Oh Christmas Eve we took a walk, me in short sleeves and Matthew in shorts.  It was in the 70’s!  ON CHRISTMAS EVE. I have to type that in caps to understand the craziness.  December set temperature records across NYC, including Christmas day.   Now it’s the beginning of January and I think it’s finally starting to feel like Winter. Winter, are you here? It’s me, Pamela.  Snow if you can hear me. 

Because of the lack of near frost temperatures and our schedule getting busy, this year we didn’t cut down our tomato plants like we usually do at the beginning of November.  There were still some green tomatoes on the plants and the weather was still changing daily so we left the plants up.  November came, December came, and the tomato plants stayed up.  During the Winter we don’t visit the garden everyday so you can imagine my surprise when I checked it out one day and I saw all these tomatoes on the plants!   Can you believe it?  I thought the plants would be dead by now, but instead they’ve been on the roof making tomatoes! What busy plants…!
Picking Tomatoes in January_4

So with it finally feeling like Winter (40 degrees out today) and seeing the upcoming night time temperatures I took a basket to the garden this weekend and picked pounds of tomatoes.  I can’t believe we were able to pick tomatoes in the beginning of January!
Picking Tomatoes in January_9

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