Friday, May 1, 2009
Spring has sprung
May 1st here in Washington and I can't figure out what has been going on weatherwise. The snow is gone, the lake has thawed and we've had what, summer weather for a couple of days? Daytime temperatures near 80 degrees. Windows open, sweaters shed, and lawn furniture dusted off. Not that I'm complaining.......
(photo) Manure deal goin' down on nearby Black Locust Farm
Listened to "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver on tape. Truly inspiring. And what a treat listening to the author read her work in that drawly southern voice of hers. The website dedicated to this book is full of great info http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/
My neighbor and very knowledgeable sustainable gardening guru, Sharon, has led 4 of us local wanna-bes clammering for more and more ways to enrich the soil, boost the harvest, protect the environment to attend weekly sessions at her house. Best lessons learned:
Throw away your rototiller! New think has it that leaving what's there is best, ammending on top of the soil rules and, what's in the ground is good and needs to be nourished--bugs, micro-organisms, bacteria and all.
Manure is something to be sought after. High on my priority list: cultivating friendships with neighbors who can supply the stuff. Don't share this info with too many people or there will be none left for you!
Dried up autumn leaves are a good thing. Gold in fact. Remember those landscapers who used large portable annoyingly loud blowing tools strapped to their backs to blow perfectly good shredded leaves from the lawn to the the street? Fools! That's the stuff mulch dreams are made of. Remember the real estate mantra location, location, location? Compost, compost, compost. There's just never enough of the stuff. And think of the dollars that can be saved by creating your own. Almost everything is fair game for the compost pile. What was commonly called garbage when I was a child can now be called compost. We're just about fighting over old newspapers up here to use in the garden. The wiley white beared attendant at Washington Recycling Center has got to be scratching his head and wondering why these women are asking for permission to dive into the recylced newspaper dumpster to take newspapers away! Why? Compost! Layered gardening!
Seed catalogues take priority over any NY Times best seller. Seductive color images of the best vegetables and flowers you could possible cultivate. And detailed information about how to plant, when to plant, how to heal.
It's never too early to start a garden in Maine. Indoors that is. My Wal-Mart spade didn't dent the top of the soil in my garden because the ground was still frozen rock hard. But fellow classmates dazzled me with descriptions of heating lamps, night vigils over new green shoots, the perfect organic potting soil for starting seedlings (must have sea kelp in it) best recycled containers for sprouts, and planting schedules. Oh my. So little time with so much to do especially with such a short growing season in Maine. Yikes.
Looking to Thoreau to justify a modest start, I plan to simplify. Keeping my goals small and hopefully achieveable. Two 4x4 feet spaces will contain my household garden. I can expand next spring if I want/need to based on lessons learned this year. I will layer newspaper, compost, soil and mulch right over (yes, Lenny) the grass, and plant there. I will continue to amend the soil over the growing season and pray for worms. I may even buy worns, the red kind, that eat faster than the fat guy at a pie eating contest to work on my very own compost. I will buy already sturdy early plants to sink into this newly prepared gardern. And I will work toward becoming a locovore, buying and eating what is produced locally, if not from my garden, lovingly by real people, not corporate farmers, within a 100 mile radius. Thank god for the amazing Farmers Markets here in Maine.
Not to take away from all the enthusiasm out there about home gardens done naturally, I have to confess that I am truly a flower gardener at heart. I will plant as much space as I can in annuals that I can cut and bring inside. I look forward to the black eyed susans that will line the path to the lake, and the hollyhocks growing against our red shed. I plan to grown sunflowers, the big ones. for the first time. I even bought a packet of seeds that are called Flowers to Attract Beneficials to the Garden. Good bugs and bees that is. Who will help to feed the birds and bats and keep bad bugs at bay. Its all in the balance, you see. Then no need for serious assualt on any bugs--well maybe Japanese beetles or black flies. But even they have their role in the big scheme of things. We'll see. I just learned from an email that my David Austen roses have been sent by Fed Ex and are due any day now. Can't wait for those!