Sunday, March 3, 2013

Double-Digging, Lady Bugs, Goodbye Blondie and Greeny

Today, we started preparing the new flower and herb garden, using the time-proven French double-digging technique.

You begin by digging your first trench.  12' deep and 18" wide.  The soil from that first trench gets moved to the back of the area that you will be preparing and will cover your last trench.

Once the trench has been dug, the bottom of the trench gets "cultivated" (breaking soil with garden fork) so water, nutrients and bacteria/fungi can penetrate the sub soil.

Trench then gets filled with 6" of straw, leaves or hay.  Next is added 6" of compost or manure (horse, alpaca, goat) or seasoned cow or chicken manure.
Once the trench has been filled with the organic matter, the next trench gets dug, its soil put on top of the organic matter in the previous trench.
That process gets repeated until you get to the end of the garden area you are preparing.

Inspecting a load of compost, created in November 2012 and perfectly ready for today's job.

A little tea break from digging...

Four trenches were dug today, about a fourth of the new garden area.

We'll be digging the rest of that garden all week so if you missed today and want to practice, feel free to come by Monday or Wednesday 9:00am-12:00pm during our volunteer time.  If these days/hours don't work, don't hesitate to email/call to make other arrangements.  We want to have the garden area prepared for next Sunday so we can create the beds and paths, and finish with a top dressing of the beds with sifted compost.

We have begun planting seeds, mostly peas, lettuce and flowers.

We make our own potting soil:

1 part peat moss
1 part sand
1 part sifted mature compost (our own of course!)
1/2 part garden soil
Bone, blood and alfafa meal

Mix very thoroughly so all the ingredients are evenly distributed in your mix.

Peas in our new propagation greenhouse

We released 1,500 lady bugs in our hoop house to tak care of aphids

Last week, we received 1,000lbs of over-ripe/moldy grapefruits from the Food Depot.  Two pallet size bins of compost (96 cubic feet) were created from that donation.

Blondie, our sweetest hen, who would climb on your lap and relish being held and petted, rejoined the world of her ancestors.  Was she mobbed by the rest of the more dominant hens?  We found her bleeding and knocked out.  We moved her to the greenhouse, she bounced back for a day but died a day later.  Did she die of shock?  Grief?  We will miss you Blondie.  You were an angel.

Two days later, Greeny, our Alpa Mallard duck was nowhere to be found.  Did he fly away as that little guy was strong and semi-wild?  We found him dead in a corner of the duck hotel.  No trace of struggle or blood.  Greeny and the much larger Osha (a Pekin duck) had been fighting for the alpha position.  Greeny had the upper hand and Osha seemed to have surrendered.  Did Osha plot his revenge and used his superior weight to corner Greeny and suffocated him that night?

Thank you to all of you who have been coming to plant seeds, wash potting trays, make potting soil and prepare the new garden!

“What we must think about is an agriculture with a human face. We must give standing to the new pioneers, the homecomers bent on the most important work for the next century - a massive salvage operation to save the vulnerable but necessary pieces of nature and culture and to keep the good and artful examples before us. It is time for a new breed of artists to enter front and center, for the point of art, after all, is to connect. This is the homecomer I have in mind: the scientist, the accountant who converses with nature, a true artist devoted to the building of agriculture and culture to match the scenery presented to those first European eyes.”
Wes Jackson,
Becoming Native to This Place

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