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Monday, March 17, 2014

In the beginning



We keep our seed packets in a wooden index box in the refrigerator, and it's an exciting moment every year when the box comes out to be gone through for early planting in the potting shed/greenhouse.

This year, for perhaps no very good reason other than that I like to, I've put a lot of greens seeds and roots seeds in an herb shaker, swirled them all together, and shaken out seed, as one might in salting one's dinner, over a flat of potting soil, to see what comes up. 

And again, two weeks later.

Things have indeed come up, and while I recognize the lettuce, the kale, collards, cabbages, joi choi, chard, beets, radishes, spinach and so on all look much alike to me. You cannot try this sort of laizzez-faire foolery in the garden if you're not good at telling your vegs from the weeds, but in the potting shed it does not seem to do much harm. 

In the garden, these potlings may well be planted out, more or less on a grid, as I come to them, kneeling by the beds. It results in a bit of a polyculture, where a plant may find a nutrient it prefers because its neighbor doesn't, or can find water because its neighbor's feet run deeper or shallower than its own, or a bug gets tired of having to travel so much to find its favorite lunch special.

This does not lead to the efficient harvesting beloved of industry, but may be its own kind of resilience, and to me is much more fun.

Today I pricked out some of the bigger items (many of whom, no doubt, are the French Breakfast radishes) and medium items (among whom, I hope are the Cracoviensis and Forellenschluss lettuces) and moved them on to three inch pots in leakproof flats, suitable for bottom watering. I want to get things past the point where they can vanish in the garden in one day (birds) or night (slugs) without my having a chance to defend them.


There is a swaying-swishing sort of slow dance to this, and I like to have Chopin's Preludes playing in the background as I do it.


In the photos, you may notice a blender sitting on the bench in the background. It's a dedicated garden tool (i.e., not borrowed from the house, which has its own). They can be quite inexpensive from the local thrift store. What I do is fill the pitcher about half with water, add a little bit of "yellow liquid," and some chopped comfrey and perhaps a few other herby things as the fancy takes me.

Bzzzzt. Instant tea.

Decant into a watering can through a sieve or strainer, and let sit a few days in a sunny spot in the greenhouse window. Serve to the bottom-watering pots, but only a very little bit, maybe one part tea to five parts fresh well water. Pow'ful stuff.

Seems to do some good.

But what the blender is really for is to make tea for the garden, when the plants are established there.

Soon, soon. One cannot do everything at once, especially in the beginning.

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