It is so obviously springtime here. Even though I've been fairly busy outside, I feel like I have nothing to report. Evidently I'm not alone. Half my blog reading list has gone stealth in the last couple of weeks.
We're still working on hauling away the debris from cutting down three evergreen trees a few weeks ago. Surprising how fast the bed of the beater pickup truck gets full. Plus my husband ripped out a fair sized stand of forsythia to make more room for things that will feed us. All that had to be hauled away as well. Now we're sort of debating which berry to put in that spot. The soil looks none too great.
The comfrey is up and starting to grow rather quickly, and the one I moved under the apple tree last fall seems just fine. The oregano and thyme evidently made it through the winter, because they are putting out tentative green leaves. What's more surprising, and therefore more exciting, is that the ramps we transplanted last year are coming up. We were sure they hadn't made it. The leaves keeled over and apparently died shortly after transplant. Even the even spacing and location of the leaves didn't convince me. I had to break one off and sniff it. No question that stuff is in the garlic-onion family! So now we have a few ramps poking up. I've never eaten them before, and there are only 8 or 9 of them out there. So fill me in, please. Should I let them just do their thing this year so that there will be more to harvest next year?
Our seed potatoes arrived, and I've started them chitting (pre-sprouting) in a dark, moderately warm spot inside. Also our two cherry and two pear trees, along with our asparagus roots. We don't have the raised beds built yet, don't even have the materials for the beds. So typical of us. This was something I had hoped to get to before the plants showed up. The weekend after this one I have to go pick up my four blueberry bushes from the Extension Office sale.
On top of everything else, the weather has been crazy. It snowed on Wednesday this week when it was 42 F outside. I know; I didn't think that was possible either. But it is. I had to look it up, but it can happen, and it did. About 10 days ago we had hail large enough to destroy the glass on my coldframe. The plan was to do some chipping last Saturday, but it was so windy that the chips simply blew away when they came out of the chipper. And then there's been the odd 63 F day sprinkled in there among all the cold and gray ones. The temperature has fallen below freezing overnight a few times, but never on the nights that it was predicted to. I like spring, but the mercurial weather (no pun intended), I could do without. Since we have clay soil, all the rain we've had is making it very difficult to get an opening to plant. Planting trees (or anything really) in clay soil that's wet is a Bad Idea. The soil gets all compacted and loses what little microbial life was in there.
We've been modifying the design of our chicken coop, a project that has been moving at an agonizingly slow pace. Part of this - but only part of this - delay can be chalked up to the weather again. It was either too cold or too rainy for quite a stretch of time to do any priming or painting. The painting is nearly done now, but we have a much more serious design issue to overcome. I plan to blather on about my mobile coop and pen in a lengthy post, TK. In related but sad news, we heard one of our hens died while at winter camp. I was sort of prepared for this, so I'm not too upset. At least we didn't have to kill her, and she wasn't killed by a predator. Just dead one morning. We'll see how the others are doing just as soon as we get our act together with the chicken digs.
We discovered a huge cement slab in the process of extending our garden. What fun! Too big to move, and right where the potatoes were supposed to occupy long, uncrowded rows so different from last year. Nothing to do about it, couldn't find the bottom of the slab even two feet down. It was going nowhere. I attempted to do a little biochar trial by filling the space all around it with twigs and stuff. You know, for carbon sequestration and soil improvement. Bloody weather once again - the wood was all pretty damp. I'm going to file that one under "nice idea if you happen to have a lot of seasoned twigs lying around."
What else? Oh, yes. I bought some durable row cover and have set out some lettuces. As soon as the cover went up about a thousand volunteer seedlings popped up. I would have ripped them out, or some of them anyway, but they were more or less in areas where the ground cherry volunteered last year. In case you're curious, I'm pretty sure we had "clammy" ground cherries, Physalis heterophylla, and no, that doesn't refer to the texture of the fruit. It refers to the slightly sticky stems. I'm about 80% convinced that that's what these are, so I'm leaving them for now. I have a spot in mind for them where they'll be able to grow year after year, under our new fruit trees. Turns out, the plant will form a rhizome and regrow from that. So, a little more time and we'll know for sure whether that's what we've got.
I pushed my luck again today and planted out a few leeks and shallots. I will probably need to cover them. I just couldn't stand looking at a mostly empty garden anymore, plus I'm running out of room inside for seedlings. By this time last year, I had harvested a small pile of baby Tuscan kale leaves. This year, with a cooler spring, the surviving kale plants are just barely starting to green up.
Other than yardwork, I've been spending my time madly researching forest gardening after watching this amazing video. I don't know why permaculture or forest gardening didn't interest me when I first heard about it. But it's got my full attention now. Which means tons of reading and pondering, and inter-library loan requests of course.
I keep hoping that one of these years we're going to have a spring that isn't insanely busy, one where I don't feel like I'm behind schedule all the time. Just once, I'd like that. Next year, if my husband still has a job, I'm going to lobby for two weeks' vacation in April.
That's all I got.
On the Back Porch of America
8 hours ago