Friday, January 07, 2011

Hard Day's Work

Yesterday was warm enough that I was finally able to head outside and work in the garden for a good portion of the day. Lately, it's been too cold to do very much outdoors, and the ground has been frozen (making any sort of gardening next to impossible). Earlier this week, I did manage to go prospecting in my burdock patch, and dig up a huge bucket of roots for cutting up and drying. Burdock borders on a pernicious weed (well, in truth, most people already consider it one), which is why mine is contained in a raised bed surrounded by gravel at the far end of our property. Not that this will thwart the burdock, but I'm hoping it will at least slow it down. Anywho, after digging an enormous bucketful of roots, it still looked as though I hadn't even touched the patch! Needless to say, I won't be running out of burdock anytime soon.

Yesterday, I decided it was high time to work on my new salad greens raised bed. This used to be my old herb bed (before we built my new formal herb garden closer to the house). Since I don't need it anymore (and DO need a salad greens section), I decided to pull up and transplant the remaining herbs, and then fill up the bed with lots of beautifully aged poo. I like to consider myself a connoisseur of poo at this point, and the stuff I was collecting from the compost pile was looking pretty nice. In the years BT ("Before Tractor"), we were never able to routinely turn the enormous amounts of manure gathered from the farm. Therefore, the composting process took far longer AND did not kill any weed seeds. It made keeping my garden areas weed-free an even more difficult task. Now, not only can I more quickly obtain beautiful, weed-free compost, but it's pretty cool to watch the poo pile steam all day long. Reminds me of the misty moors of English literature.


I worked for several hours outside, and finally managed to fill up the raised bed to a respectable level. I'm going to let the compost settle for a bit, and within the next few weeks will be planting my salad crops there. I will be doing my usual must-have greens (namely assorted lettuce, spinach, and arugula), but this year will be including some new and tasty types as well: Buckshorn Plantain, Purslane, Shepherd's Purse, Chickweed, and Good King Henry. I'm quite excited to see what our spring salads look like! I'm sure they will be quite lovely to behold with so many different types of greens. I won't have any need to replant sorrel, since my little sorrel patch is thriving, and has been feeding us through the winter. I'm amazed by my sorrel - it is (thus far) seemingly impervious to cold.

I have started my first two seed germination trays of 2011 (and I still need to begin two more!): Violet de Provence artichoke, assorted broccoli, Husk Tomato, Walla Walla onions, leeks, Goldenrod, cauliflower, etc. One of the reasons I love starting seeds is because it gives me something to look forward to each day: a little bit of green in a cold and brown time period.

This weekend, my husband plans to dismantle the old goat shelter located in my 2nd garden patch (i.e. what used to be the old buck pasture), therefore allowing more sunlight to hit a greater portion of the garden. After cleaning out the donkey pasture 2x in the last half year or so, we have PLENTY of manure to spread around and work into the soil in this particular garden patch! Its truly amazing what 7 donkeys can put out in a few months' time! And seeing the enormous pile of poo makes me realize just WHY I now have chronic back and wrist problems - last year I cleaned an EQUAL amount of manure (for starting this 2nd garden plot) out of their pens using only a small shovel and my wheel barrow! I do believe that qualifies as crazy.

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