Sunday, January 09, 2011

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish!

In an amazing feat of sheer physical labor, and in spite of pouring rain and cold temperatures, my husband managed to tear down the old goat shelter (in the 2nd garden plot) in a single day yesterday! I was VERY impressed! And he didn't even take out the fence (much)! He also managed to get a good portion of the downed shelter taken apart and stacked into piles by the edge of the pasture. I'm so thrilled/thankful/excited! The shelter stood at the far western corner of the pasture, and directly blocked the afternoon & evening sun from about half the pasture, therefore rendering that half of the pasture useless for planting. But now that the shelter is gone, it's amazing how much light gets through! Hello garden expansion!!

(A photo of me with the "Original Three" - aka a very young Zilla, Cheerio, & Breeze - in the old goat pasture-turned 2nd Garden plot)

Today has dawned another frustratingly-cold day (24 degrees for morning chores), which means that the ground will be frozen for a good portion of the day. Sigh. Still, we are hoping to be able to take the tractor and begin working the huge piles of donkey manure and compost into the 2nd garden plot. The only two sections that I will not be rototilling in there are my artichoke and celtuce patches. Everything else is getting tilled under. It's going to be beautiful! In about two weeks I will be planting peas and fava beans, as well as my early spring salad greens (namely Arugula, Spinach, and assorted lettuces). Yesterday, I planted my fall-or-early-spring pot herb crops (which require a period of cold stratification before germinating) in my newly-made salad bed: Good King Henry, Chickweed, and Buckshorn Plantain. Just for kicks, I also planted some Chives and wild Purslane in there as well. I collected the Purslane seed from wild plants found growing on my property. Purslane is a truly AMAZING plant: not only is it incredibly tasty as a salad green (or as a topping in cold Zucchini soup!), but the seeds can be ground up into a nutritious and delicious bread flour! But Purslane's "coolness" doesn't even stop there!!!: Purslane is the only plant I know that will continue to put out flowers and create seeds loooooooong after you pull it up from the ground! Instead of just drying out and turning brown and dying, it stays green and fresh and continues to flower and go to seed. Don't believe me? Try picking it sometime. I did, and was amazed!

Purslane is one of those plants that cracks me up: most gardeners just consider it a weed, and tear it out of their garden without a moment's consideration. Then, they go over to their local farmer's market and pay a ridiculous sum to eat it in their "organic salad mixes." Never do they stop to think and identify what they are eating. So many "weeds" that grow wild around here are delicious, edible, and USEFUL plants: Purslane, Yellow Dock, Lamb's Quarters, Plantain, etc. But I supposed if people are stupid enough not to do their research, then they deserve to pay top dollar for something that they could be eating for free.

Besides my salad greens, I also planted some Blue Vervain & Black Cumin. Both require cold stratification in order to germinate, but if you just plant them in your garden around January, you'll be surprised at how well they grow with no coddling on your end.

I noticed that my broccoli and Walla Walla onions in Seed Tray #1 sprouted in under 3 days! So exciting to see some new green in this time of white and brown.

So you see, even in January, it's not just the potatoes and Litchi tomatoes that can be optimistic! My fellow Zone 7+ gardeners can begin their early spring planting on several plant varieties!

Keep checking back for more gardening updates as the months progress. February will mark the beginning of the first big spring planting, so stay tuned!

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