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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tasks and tea

Conditions are murky, and one wants to stay by the fire, but some necessary activities are beginning to assert themselves.

A thing that needs doing is testing the new broadfork to see how it works. I'm not quite ready to lock the poultry out of the main garden, even the upper part, which is often planted in April or even late March with things like peas and early greens. That's still a ways off and I want every inch gone over by the ducks again and again. Susannah, too, who finds all the weeds as they sprout.

So I have looked at the bed by the summer deck. Last year it had one oregano "bush" and a few alliums and didn't really pull its weight -- well, lots of salvia, but still.

I have a surplus of broadbeans so went to the cold room to get them and, with them in my pocket, addressed myself to the fork and the bed. Would it penetrate deeply enough to lift the bed?

Here's a commercial photo of the fork, a Bully Tools product. It's selling in the range $60-70 which is amazing if you have priced broadforks. The adverts all say it has fiberglass handles, but what I got was fiberglass tubes filled with broom handle. The handles are very hard to install on the fork and line up with the bolt holes, but I got it done with a shot-filled deadfall mallet I inherited from my father-in-law.

Based on reviews, I gather the steel is a bit soft, so I should avoid boulders and tree roots. No problem here. It sank to the hilt in the test bed and lifted the soil beautifully. At this time of year, tilling is a no-go, but broadforking is a go! I spread the seeds, about one every six inches, and with just a touch of the rake they vanished.

Feeling a bit invigorated by this success, I turned to pruning. There are five mature apple trees that want major surgery, but I'm not ready for them yet; however several smaller apples and pears wanted attention as well. Two of them were brushing the tiny house already, and cutting them back gave me some satisfaction.

After that, I took the scythe to last year's fuchsia, mint bed, and raspberries. I will have to tie up the remaining raspberries and cover the cut ones with cardboard and straw. I cut all the raspberry canes last year, in an effort to get ahead of spotted fruit fly, and so this year all the canes are second-year and should give a decent crop. We shall see.

For lunch (and dinner, for I had more of the same) I made cornbread on the waffle iron, always a favorite, and a bowl of -- broadbeans. These are not the ones saved for seed, which are very tough, gathered from brown pods and dried, but rather popped from green pods, blanched and frozen, young and green. I find they are good placed right in the steamer from the freezer, and the outer bit, which I don't peel at harvest, does not trouble me at all.

These are all small tasks, as one can see. January often sees such. There is a rhythm to them, and there is a small but persistent joy in finding it.

One builds up the fire a bit, puts the kettle on, dresses for weather, and goes back and forth between the tasks and tea.


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