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Saffron Prep – The Bed

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We’re trying Saffron again! The first round was a few years ago and it didn’t survive the chickens. I ordered 100 saffron crocus bulbs from Fedco, the ordering deadline is August 15th so hurry up if you’re in the market for some!

This time we’re planting it in it’s very own bed that’ll be over-planted with direct seeded annuals during the summer. Saffron crocuses bloom in the fall and the whole show takes place September-November. The bulbs are set for delivery after Labor day so the bed will be empty until then and leaving soil open is never a good plan so we’ll be filling in with a cover crop for now. The crocus won’t mind and a frost killed annual is the perfect bedfellow. No digging means no viciously murdering disturbing the bulbs with a shovel.

4x4 Perenial Veggie Beds
The box is 4×4 and will be placed next to the other 4×4 boxes we have set up for perennials in the vegetable garden. In the far corner of the garden I have a large L-shaped bed of asparagus, a 4×4 currently planted with leeks (it was strawberries but they didn’t survive the neglect, next year it will be horseradish), another 4×4 with Jerusalem artichokes and finally the new bed.  You can see the JA behind Alfie and the new bed behind that one. This one will have 1/2 hardware cloth across the bottom, the others don’t. It’s basically a giant version of the DIY Compost Sifter so I won’t rehash those instructions.

I built the box in the garage and carried it out to the garden, it was actually much lighter than I thought it would be. The differences between this and the sifter are: I used 2*6 wood, added 2*2 blocks in the corners for more stability and used a drill and screws instead of the pneumatic nailer. I added the hardware cloth in two panels. There was a giant bubble near the middle that required some surgery. Once again I was so grateful for our pneumatic stapler. Something that would have taken me forever was done in 15 minutes and with no hand cramps.

Empty Raised Bed on Cardboard

If you read my post about the compost sifter you saw that my garden area is currently filled with 4ft tall weeds with small areas ‘excavated’ around the beds. I’m always running low on time so when I set this bed up I didn’t even cut down the weeds. I stomped them down in a roughly 7*7 foot area, popped down a few pizza boxes and dropped the bed on top. We clearly need to eat more pizza, I didn’t have enough boxes to cover the whole base.

I used the ‘lasagna’ method to fill up the bed. Alternating layers of sun-dried grass clippings and composted cow manure with a dash of alpaca poop and some hay sweepings from the garage where the turkey poults and the wanna-be turkey Brahma hen decided to play in a hay bale. I’ve been reading about saffron and it likes rich soil, the composted manure and buckwheat should be perfect for that.  By the way if you’re in the market for some new garden reading I really like the book Lasagna Gardeningby Patricia Lanza (affiliate link). It’s a quick read but it’s got a lot of advice on building a garden from nothing without spending a ton of money.

Buckwheat Seed

After the bed was filled up I planted it with buckwheat from Johnny’s Seeds. It’s technically too late to plant it for a seed crop but I’m just using it to improve the soil, keep the weeds away and possibly help out the bees if it flowers before I get the saffron bulbs. Buckwheat has a fast turn around time so it’ll be great in this bed.

Guinea Fowl

Speaking of buckwheat, I had quality control chiming in the whole time I was working on this. The must have decided the dog was an intruder, that or they didn’t like my shirt. I can tell at least one of the three is a female, I’m constantly hearing “buck-wheat buck-wheat buck-wheat” all over the property. I got a good look at them earlier today when I was sitting on the lawn with Mary, they walked right up to us without making a sound. Turns out they can be quiet! The one in the center has much longer wattles than the other two. We started with five, one was a lot smaller and disappeared a few week after we got them. The fourth one disappeared two days ago after we pulled all the walls out of the barn. That’s one hard thing about free-ranging birds, sometimes they disappear and you never know what happened.