Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sunbreak! Everybody outside!


Mother Nature wants me to get out in the garden and start working. I know that because she's giving me sunbreaks in the middle of the day when it's over 45º outside. In another couple months I won't have to put my work clothes in the dryer to warm up before I put them on.

Soil not so deep
Right now I'm working on getting the fenced garden ready for planting. Last year I only broke the hardpan where I was actually planting something, so this year I do have to do the rest of it. This is how far I can push my fork in—about 4"—probably not deep enough for most veggies. I'm not turning it, just breaking through the crust, which is 3-4" thick. Below the hardpan, the soil is fine. Devoid of humus, but fine. I was wondering if they rent girlie jackhammers at Home Depot, but fortunately if I stand on the fork and rock it side to side for a minute or so, I can get it down through the hardpan. I'm just hoping the fork holds up long enough for me to finish this task. This really uses the back of your arms.

Halfway dug
I can only do it for about two trips from border to broccoli before my arms give out for the day, but I'm about half done now, two more days will finish it. I've put in onions and garlic and I think I've got room for two rows of potatoes now, and the row of bush beans that will go between them later. The other book I've been reading all winter is Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham, and she says potatoes and bush beans keep each other's major pests away. Works for me!

Potatoes busy thinking about sprouting

The potatoes are inside the house pre-sprouting because my soil is still languishing at 42º, and taters want 45º or 50º. Now this is different from what Ruth said—she put hers out without regard to soil temperature, however, she was tossing hers on top of the previous year's mulch. Since there's nothing but a thin layer of mini-poop on top of my very wet sandy clay, I'm going to wait those three more degrees. I don't want the spuds to think I don't love them. I hope they like jazz because I've got them right in front of the radio. Pre-sprouting is supposed to take 2-4 weeks in a medium-lit room;  I'm betting my soil will be warm enough by then, and everyone will be happy. I've indulged myself with 3 different kinds of sets—Pontiac redskins, All Blues, and Rose Finn Apple fingerlings. The Rose Finns have peachy pink skin and yellow flesh. I have lately become hooked on fingerling potatoes, nuking a few of them for supper and anointing them with olive oil and garlic salt. Little nuggets of potato wonderfulness.

Mulch making more mulch

My hay, in the meantime, is wondering when I'm going to do something with it. I'm taking Ruth's advice and waiting till I plant the taters, to get as much sun on the soil as I can before then. That's also why I poked the onions and garlic into the soil, instead of tossing them on the surface as Ruth did, same as with her taters. They don't need any hay on them yet, but they'll get it next month. The hay is growing nicely, though—I don't suppose it will grow me another bale...

My rhubarb has really taken off. Two weeks ago I was down there pulling up the giant weeds and saw this little thing next to the tiny 2" leaves that looked like a rounded, smooth, shiny, cherry pink grape. When I realized it was part of the plant, I figured it was some kind of new growth. Today I could see that it splits apart at the top and a new leaf comes out of it. Like a frost cover, I expect. Cool. Smart plant!

Happy rhubarb!

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