Sunday, June 01, 2008

Rain and gardening

The forecast for this weekend called for rain and it poured most of yesterday. I wish I'd gotten more seedlings into the soil of my garden on Friday evening and that I'd had the ground more well-prepared in advance to have been able to sow my bush beans before yesterday's downpour. It's warm and sunny this morning, but the ground is saturated, so it looks as if today will be another day with my nose in an Eliot Coleman book or on the bike. It's too wet to do anything, unless I just skirt the sides of my garden and pull some more of the lemon balm that spread throughout it last summer (which ended up being my first gardening-free season in years). Right now, my established perennial herbs are thriving -- oregano, savoury, sage, lemon thyme, parsley and chives. My echinacea is coming up. The three heirloom Brandywines I planted last week are looking nice, as are the still-potted organic jalapeƱo pepper and zucchini. I hope that the scattered heirloom carrot and organic black-seeded Simpson lettuce seed had time to settle in before the rain, so that it didn't get moved around or bunched up much. I discovered a couple of asparagus plants on Friday, surprises from seed I'd planted a couple of years ago and about which I'd forgotten; I think I'll try to nurture them to see what I can get out of them since I've never grown asparagus before.

The rhubarb in the yard is lush and green and ready to start harvesting over the next few weeks. I'll likely freeze much of it, but would like to can some -- maybe find a recipe for chutney or something along those lines. I'll have to be mindful of food preservation techniques I use over the next 4-5 months, since I'll invariably have to pull up stakes to move before the fall is over because of oil prices. This past winter, I'd thought about using this year's rhubarb to teach myself to make homemade wine this year, but after spending a couple of weeks sans-vino, I'm thinking of taking a cue from more straight-edge types and of continuing to abstain from alcohol. Between the expense and the multitude of health issues associated with its consumption, I think it just makes sense. Maybe part of today, then, will be spent finding preservation ideas for rhubarb, then...


J said...

Sounds like you have much more of a knack for gardening than I.

This is actually my first year gardening 'in the dirt', until now, I have just kept a small container garden on the porch of my apartment. My concern is, since I don't really know much about gardening, that our community garden will just 'use up' the soil in the course of a couple of years since none of us really know what we are doing or how to nurture the soil. Do you have any book recommendations that explain the more nuanced parts of gardening?

I'd hate to think I know what I'm doing, get a house, and then proceed to erode my yard and kill my soil!

Interesting about the straight edge stuff. I can understand it, but the reason it doesn't appeal to me is that I think we should be able to let loose and have fun. Basically, enjoy some of those more 'dangerous' things in moderation - caffeine, alcohol, you name it. I personally do not drink, it makes me sleepy and feel like crap, but am always a bit wary of saying that I'll NEVER do 'y' again.

M said...

I've actually pretty much just spent most of the past seven years gardening "by ear", using a couple of companion planting and composting guides. I'd hoped to get really experimental (e.g. using compost tea) but I'm having a hard time figuring out what exactly I want to try out, so have been thinking about just continuing to double-dig the soil and work as much compost as I can into it and just do my best since the time to sow and transplant is already here. There's a *lot* that should have been done last year to build up my soil, but I didn't touch my garden at all last year because I was out of town a lot dealing with family stuff.

Books... If you can, try to get your hands on some Eliot Coleman stuff. I have his _The New Organic Grower_, which is amazing. A friend who's studied horticulture and composting has also recommended a book by a fellow called Magdoff called _Building Soils for Better Crops_. I just ordered it and should be getting it in a few weeks. Read up on biointensive gardening, too, which is all about maximizing production while building up the soil.

Are you composting at your community garden?

I agree about the letting loose. I guess you're right to say "never say never". I still think that I'm going to need to find something else to do with all that rhubarb, though.

J said...

Thanks for the book names.

I don't know if they compost at the garden or not. I should find out. I know that we have worm poo for fertilizer, and I am wondering if I shouldn't have worked that into the soil before transplanting.

Gardening by ear, I love it! That sounds precisely like what I am doing. We are having an epic battle of the ages with aphids right now. We thought the problem was confined to the pepper plants on our porch. But after a huge storm last night, we looked at our chard and broccoli and they are infested! Seriously, I am at war with these aphids. I made a concoction of cayenne pepper, boiled garlic, oil and a bit of dishsoap awhile back that seemed to work very well, I just oversprayed the plant and killed it along with the aphids.

The joys of organic gardening.