The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

My yard is alive!

It’s spring, a warm spring at that and things are growing! The veggies are happy, the weeds are happy. The lawn mower is getting used. The rains come with thunder and leave humidity. Some days feel like August in KY not May! Maybe those few warm weeks in February were our spring.

The oak tree in my front yard was most likely planted around the same time the house was built in the 1020’s. It is tall and shady and scrumptious and at some times really messy. I don’t mind raking leaves but when it dumps the green stuff that hangs from the gutters? It’s messy. The worst this year is the sap that has mandated daily trips to the car wash for a week or so. Annoying. Not the perfect urban tree, yet it protects my house from the afternoon sun, that hot brutal summer afternoon sun. And I don’t have to air condition until the temps get into the high 80’s or the humidity gets as sticky as that sap.

Guess I am about to describe my front yard! Since you readers already know lots about the back yard. I have shade and the challenge of shade gardening and color. Columbines and ferns and hosta and wild local “somethings” I have brought home from the woods grow rather randomly. Amid lots of rocks outlining the beds! Rocks line the gardens in front of the house and encircle the Oak.

My favorite scene from the Lord of the Rings trilogy is when the Ents come to the rescue. The giants who are the forest.

I believe the separation from nature has cut us off from centuries of a deeply rooted relationship where we have had a working familiarity with the natural elements to support, feed and cloth ourselves. Now we conquer, bulldoze and concrete and level. And I believe the separation has created much of the issues of poor physical and mental health issues that plague our current culture.

I’m reading The Findhorn Garden. An amazing story about how the founders cultivated growing space where there was only sand and rock. Also a fascinating glimpse into the connection between the farmers and the natural elements. The farmers learn to communicate with the devas of each plant, of the soil, the water. They grow to have a personal relationship with each, believing, respecting, honoring the life force of each plant as it grows in relationship to the other. So, they talk to the plants. They listen to the plants, abide by their wishes and instructions and the garden grows better.

I do feel the life force of my plants and am grateful for the nutrition and the beauty. I do speak to my oak tree. I pray for it to hold on tight when the winds blow crazy. I thank it for the sticks it leaves me for kindling. It is a live protective being that lives with me on this little piece of property I call home.

Where Hobbits meet Treebeard.

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Gardening of all flavors – an update

Hugelkultur. It’s my new gardening method! Adapted to my urban “farm.” Urban farm sounds so much more professional than backyard hobby! Really, urban gardener, sounds more like it.
Am I a farmer? Well, I suppose I kind of am on a very small scale.

What denotes a farmer? One who grows plants? And while I mostly grow to feed myself, I am still growing plants to harvest and eat. The title farmer takes too much from those who work bigger areas. I will keep gardener on my resume.

As my gardening knees get creakier, I wish to raise my already raised beds so there’s not so much bending and moaning when I plant and weed. And there is the issues of dogs and rabbits and other critters…so, rather than buy more boards which are expensive (I have a couple of beds that need replacing after only a few years), I am replacing with an adaptation of Hugelkultur Gardening. https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur

I have adapted the bed that needed replacing by digging it out (ughhhh) and removing the rottening boards. I end up with flat ground, a blank slate.

I then got fencing and chicken wire and posts. The dirt was soft where the boards were removed. I pounded the posts in and engaged the help of two of my grandchildren in to help me pull the fencing and wire around the posts.

And the layering began. I started with green oak logs in the bottom. I layered and built up with leaves, compost, sticks, and the dirt I had just removed! I used a layer of peat and dirt at the top. As I was filling I lined the outsides with straw to keep any dirt from falling out. And I put two old screens along the sides as well. Call me obsessive!

And then I stood and planted! YES, I stood and planted!!

As the boards of my current raised beds rot I will replace them with this layered gardening. I’ve read I can put my composting scraps right on top of the dirt this winter.

The aquaponics system is up and running. Plugged the pump back in and it worked first cycle. As soon as the water is warmed I will add fish. For now, I have planted Black Seeded Simpson and snap pea seeds. I don’t know it it’s too late for the peas but the system is in afternoon shade so I am taking a chance. Worth the half a packet of seed gamble. The peas I planted in Feb in the raised bed were about half successful. I’m blaming the weather, which every gardener can certainly do this weird spring.
Asparagus didn’t do well either. Sigh….

I also placed a basil, some celeric, and broccoli still sprouting from the latest microgreen tray into the rocks of the aquaponics tub.

In the dirt, the old fashioned way (!), I have planted arugula, spinach, broccoli, kale, lettuce, brussel sprouts, peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, yellow squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe. And strawberries. I have potatoes in barrels.

Here’s to eating so local it’s right from my back yard.

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