We're renting a house that's sitting on a 3/4 acre lot in northwest Chicagoland. I sort of sheet-mulched about a half of it last September/October. Well actually i hauled in about 80 tons of (wood shavings based) horse manure and spread it about 8-10'' thick over maybe 20000 square feet. I casted winter rye seeds over all of it in November and early December and some of it (but not a lot) started sprouting before it got cold.
We also have a hugel structure that i made last year - about 1000 square feet 3 foot deep pit filled with wood and covered by soil, surrounded by a c shaped (and facing south) hugel bed - currently a skunk residence, who have been helping us with 'kitchen waste' recycling all winter long.
The soil here is quite good, loamy with maybe about 3 feet of topsoil. The previous owner was from what i heard very firm about not using any chemicals on or around the lot.
The plan is to grow food for our family (of six), sell the excess and save the income for a downpayment so we could purchase this (if the landlord is wiling to sell or other) property.
My grandparents were farmers and i did a lot of work around our garden with our parents but it was mostly till twice a year, plant in rows and weed a lot kind of farming. I'm trying to figure out how to do it the no-till, company planting style.
The soil is still frozen but i'm getting ready to start planting indoors. Tomatoes (which i plan on making our main $ crop) actually seem to grow better when transplanted so i'm thinking i could start with them about now. Maybe peppers as well since we're about 2 months from our last frost.
Sounds like you have the timing right for starting tomato and pepper seedlings. Conventional wisdom here has us starting about that far ahead of the last frost. Important to know (if you don't already) you lose about two weeks of growth to transplant shock every time you transplant tomatoes. You might take that into account when potting them up.
You can regain some of the lost rooting potential if you stretch out a smaller container (within reason) by burying all but the top of the seedling at final planting time. It will regrow roots along the whole length of stem.
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