Monday, May 30, 2011

So, how well is the hay working?

It was dry yesterday and I was able to spend more time with the veggies, looking at the grass sprouts that were coming up all over. Most of the grass clumps came right up when I pulled on them—they were actually growing out of the hay, and didn't have any roots in the ground at all. I pulled the hay apart on some of those, separated out the green sprouts, and laid them on top of thick hay where they might have a chance to die—if it stops raining long enough to dry them out. In spots where the hay was thick, I did what Ruth recommends, I turned the hay over and put the green stuff on the bottom where it won't get so much light.

In places where the hay was thin I found both sprouted hay, and seedlings coming up from my dirt. The rooted seedlings were the same mix of annual and perennial grasses I've been fighting down there for 5 years. I pulled a few up, but I need to get in with the hand hoe and get them out while there aren't that many. Where the sprouts were coming out of the hay, I piled on more hay, thick enough to cover them up. I found quite a few areas where I hadn't put enough hay down to begin with, and I used up several thick flakes of fresh hay covering those up.

I only found a few new broadleaf weeds poking through from the soil, and got those out. All in all, there was far less trouble than I expected to find. I'm feeling at this point that the hay is working great.

I am sorry to say that neither the fennel seed nor the salsify ever came up. I'm not sure if the soil was too cold, or if I did something else wrong. At the Wilco store in town, I found a 4" pot with half a dozen young fennel plants all jammed together, so I'm going to try to separate those and put them down in the fennel row, so I can get at least some this year.

I did get one surprise. I was down there earlier in the morning than I've been going out, and while I was walking around near the barn I heard some critter bigger than a cat making a bunch of noise moving around in the stall where I keep the hay. After a few seconds I saw a big fuzzy coyote pup climb out through the open window in the back, and exit my yard through a section where I only have a 3-rail fence. I think that explains where all the feral cats I don't see any more have gone to. I've heard coyote packs periodically at night for years, but this is only the second individual I've ever seen, and the first pup. There used to be feral cats that practically lived here. I hope the coyotes are picking up the slack going after the voles and moles in my yard. I was glad it wasn't a bear. Ah, wilderness!

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