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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

To see another Spring


Here's a sample of the downage from the big ice storm. Millions of trees have been damaged or destroyed, and the "chips" fell where they would. Of our own trees, the fruit trees, cottonwoods, willows, ash, maples and conifers came through rather unscathed, but the big oak threw down five quite large and heavy branches, two more than a foot in diameter at the big end. We are pleased they did not hit the house, but some of our friends are now having their houses rebuilt. Folks will be digging out from under for weeks. The air is heavy with the snarl of hungry chainsaws and the whine of contractors' trucks and miter saws.

These branches will make nice firewood. But we have to finish the pruning and start the garden first.

I have shut the poultry out of the garden and heaped up the two 3X50' beds at the upper end. Each year I begin by hammering some stakes at what I think are the bed corners, then raking matter out of the "paths," where the chickens have thrown it, toward the beds. I tidy up the boundary between bed and path by tying a "rope" made of baling twine from stake to fence and dragging the straw, muck, old compost, and a bit of soil underneath the rope onto the bed.

The soil in the lower garden is still wet. If the rain stays away I may attempt the four beds there in a few days as well. There are six, really, but one is now all blueberries and another is raspberries. There's little organic matter down there for some reason, though I have thrown compost, leaves and mulch at it for twenty-one years. Such heavy clay defeats everything. So I may have to throw on the contents of the compost bins, some of which is hardly ready for prime time but it might as well finish on the garden as in the heap.

I see I am down to one actual seedling flat, the others all having self-destructed or are the kind that are just for holding pots. So I've filled the loner with potting soil --

-- lined it off, and planted some radishes, kale, collards,lettuce, chard, and spinach. Whatever comes up will be pricked out and moved to pots.

I like the 3" size. These will be given a couple of either broadbeans or sugar snap peas each, and watered in. I brought home a spare blender from the last Florida expedition, and it sits on the potting shed counter, awaiting various concoctions for the garden. To water in these peas, beans, and greens I put comfrey, grass, dandelions, willow buds, garlic and mint in the blender, gave it all a whirl, and then decanted green liquid through a fine sieve into the watering can.

I've made a "warming" shelf by adding a plywood skirt to one of the "greenhouse" shelves and setting a 100 watt bulb just underneath. We'll see what that does. The world, with its changing climate, still offers enough bounty that gardeners can afford to experiment. 

I'm glad to see another Spring, and I'm not alone. Though I am dressed yet for Winter, my bones are moving a bit more easily, and if that and the smell of the warming earth were not enough clues, the juncos, towhees and sparrows are making offerings of song just beyond the potting shed door.


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