The heat came this week with July intensity, days in the eighties with evenings humid and warm. I love it. It feels like summer is finally here, even if my body wasn't quite ready to run on these fumes. I should have known as much after I decided to hoe up a 10x10' plot of old horse paddock (the horses were moved months ago from this area) and make a bed for potatoes and mangelwurzel. It's not a large bed to make, but it is if it's one woman in the heat who decided after a five mile run that she could turn up the entire bed herself in 85° sunshine. With a clenched jaw and a hoe I worked until I had the earth turned and mounds build like a little raised foundation. I created a rough square and planted the seed potatoes, in the center was a bed for the mangels. My idea was that the nightshades would deter the groundhogs from going inside the fortress of potato plants to find the beat leaves - which I am sure the local vermin would probably devour and the plot isn't fenced...
We'll see. We've got plan B for the ground hogs as well.
What's a mangel? It's a type of giant red beet used for animal fodder. Since pigs are such an asset and regular form of income on this farm it only makes sense to try and raise a small portion of the feed going into winter, like grass is managed for the sheep and horses. So we ordered these seeds commonly used in Britain and are hoping for a crop that can be stored and chopped up and added to the pigs' winter feed here and there. The same way we'd sometimes give them older squash from our garden before it turned or got too soft in the larder.
It got done, despite the heat, and with those seeds in the ground it finished up spring planting. So, for those counting, this farm now has: lettuces, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, cabbage, snap peas, radishes, peppers, tomatoes, squash, herbs, sweet corn, beans, beets, potatoes, cucumbers, mangels, marigolds and sunflowers! Along with our animals, eggs, bunnies, freezer chicken and pork - a substantial amount of food for a small space! It feels good and safe and work well done.
For more reading on growing beets as fodder for livestock, read here!