Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Soil

I finally got my hands dirty yesterday. It wasn't much and it wasn't for long but it felt so good to let the moist, cool, soil crumble in my hands.

We covered one of the smaller beds with some old windows we got from freecycle. These were supposed to be turned into a cold frame 2 years ago but as usual everything else takes priority over the garden, especially in the summer and fall. So last fall, after the potatoes were harvested we place the windows, wooden frames and all, across the bed to see what difference it made if any at all.

Boy, did it ever make a difference. The beds that are uncovered are still cold enough to make my knuckles hurt when I dig in them and the ground is only thawed out 6 inches down. In the covered bed, the soil was cool but not cold. There was enough moisture that it is still just a tiny bit to wet to plant, but it won't take long. Best of all, I was able to dig quite far down into the dirt without finding a hard frost area.

Of course it has me all excited and making plans to plant already. My plan is to plant some old lettuce seeds I have left over from previous attempts at growing lettuce. Usually we plant it and just as it is getting big enough to eat, it gets hot and humid and so the plants bolt. We're hoping this year will be different. By planting the seeds a month early maybe we will actually be harvesting lettuce about the same time as we are planting the rest of the garden.

Of course if this works, then I'll have to make sure to cover both of the smaller beds with extra windows. Better yet, maybe I can convince PeterC to help me set up cold frames that will be better sealed and built at an angle to make better use of the lower angle of the sun. Then we'll see what other early crops I can pull off the garden. Lettuce, radishes, and peas, oh my!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Redux

Spring is back. Mother Nature only hit the snooze button, rather than turning off the alarm and going back to sleep. The ground is squishy, the sun is warm, the birds are moving in, and the snow is melting quickly.

The Grackles, Red Wing Blackbirds, and Starlings have been here for over a week taking advantage of the extra seed I put out for the Chickadees. The first Robin showed up yesterday afternoon, sitting in the crabapple tree as if he had been here all along. Even the geese are beginning to come home.

The desire to dig in the garden is fast becoming an imperative. I've finalized our produce plans for this year and even purchased the seeds. We are planting one bed of Green Peas, one bed of Bush beans, one bed of beets, one bed of carrots, and the largest bed is going to be split between shallots and garlic. If the garden goes well I'll be doing a lot of canning this fall. I am considering planting two tomato plants in the carrot bed just for the fresh tomato slices I love so much.

The herb bed is still in the planing stages but we always buy plants from the greenhouse, rather than starting them ourselves. Basil, thyme, hot peppers, and chamomile are the most likely annual plants. Rosemary, sage, chives, oregano, tarragon, catnip, mint, lemon balm, and marjoram are the perennial herbs we maintain each year. We will of course replant any of the perennials if they have died over the winter.

Of course there are the apple trees that should be blooming this year. The high bush cranberries that will be transplanted to their permanent location this year. If possible I am going to purchase three dwarf blueberries bushes to plant this year as well. I just wish we had enough room for all the other types of fruiting plants I would love to have - pears, cherries, sea buckthorn, goji berries, saskatoon berries, and honey berries.

Oh, to win the lottery. Then I can have the garden and orchard of my dreams. Along with the goats, horses, sheep, and all the other things I dream about. You know what they say..."IF you are going to dream, dream big." Until then I will just have to satisfy myself with my small little plot of land and make the most of the space I have available.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Spring Aborted

March started out warm and very wet. We got more rain in the first two days of March than we normally get for the whole month. Every flat field, ditch, and low area was absolutely flooded. The snow was almost gone in areas where it wasn't packed down. Then that all changed.

Mother Nature called an abort of spring. Maybe she realized it was just to damn early for this part of the world to lose it's snow and cold weather. March 3rd woke with the rain still coming down but now it was coming down as snow. All the snow that had melted was back in place and more was falling, quite heavily at times, from the sky. The temperatures dipped back below freezing and have stayed there, hovering just below zero during the day and dipping down to the negative teens at night.

All those fields and low areas are still flooded but now they are solid sheets of ice instead of water. The trees look like they did 3 month ago with no sign of spring in the air. The flowers that were trying to poke their heads out of the snow are dormant again and the trees, who had just started to yawn, are now firmly asleep again. Winter dozed off but woke up just in time to wrap the world, at least my corner of it, back into the fluffy snow wrapped sleep it had started to wake from.