Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Equinox 2011

Whew! This post marks a little over one year since we moved here, started up the garden, and began this blog.
What do we have to show for ourselves? Well, naturally a few gray hairs. I won't be writing a retrospective of the past year; the blog speaks for itself on that count. I will, however, wrap up the winter and declare our course for the season to come.
First of all, while pictures and an account of Alten have been sadly lacking, he has not been idle. In the past month, really, he has taken up crawling, climbing on things, showing comprehension of some of the sign language we've been using with him and, ta-dah! He has produced two teeth! The latter was especially exciting to us since he seemed to be working on them from around month four. He's been sleeping a little better, took a 2-hour-long uninterrupted nap the other day, and is eating rice like there's no tomorrow. As to the crawling, he says it's only truly useful for getting to things upon which one might pull one's self up.
Equinox was spent visiting my brother, Chris, who had a mishap on his bike a couple of weeks ago (those of you who know him have probably already seen the x-rays on his facebook page). He's up in the hills of West Virginia at the Mountain Institute, which is beautiful and more than an hour from the nearest emergency room. We had intended to walk all over tarnation with him, but he was in some pain, so we hung out and stayed warm instead. The pictures on the site above are bewitching, but they still don't do full justice to the peace and magnificence of the area.

Following directly on the heels of that trip I got in the garden to dig, and prepared 150 ft² for the Kamut wheat we had flatted already and the collection of other spring wheats that we had some seed for. Related to this, I've updated the Garden Stats in the sidebar with this year's figures. The current figure of 449 ft² includes fall-planted wheat, rye, and garlic, and the perennials we started last year, namely alfalfa and clover. I'll finish planting the Kamut today and update the number. It doesn't include all the cover crops that we started last year to keep the soil happy over winter - those will get ripped out in the next month or so.

Last year we finished out at a little over 42% of the total area getting dug and planted. We are already a month ahead of last year, so I am optimistic we'll get it all in, and in good time.
So far we have flatted parsley, celery, wheat, parsnips, leeks, onions, kale, cabbage, lettuce, and probably something else I'm forgetting.

Other projects we have to complete before the season gets into full swing are flat-building, fence-finishing, compost-bin-constructing, and erecting some kind of temporary housing on the site. Each will probably get its own post except for flats, which already got covered in a previous post. I will say, however, that most of our pallet-flats survived well enough to head into a second season. We'll just need twice as many to meet our ambitions this year. Our sister-in-law Rachel came over from PA the week before last to lend a hand tearing up pallets and translating them into flats, so we're full of appreciating for that...

In early March we kicked-off our year's teaching schedule by heading out to California to present at Ecology Action's Three-Day Worshop. We taught classes on sustainable diet design, bed preparation, seed starting, compost, compost crops, garden planning through the Master Charts in How to Grow More Vegetables, and a few others, and John Jeavons taught the rest (for pictures of the one in November see this post). Just last Saturday we taught a class locally on starting seedlings. Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm's Center for Lifelong Learning has a very active education program for children and adults, and we are on the list this Spring teaching the seedling class and a day-long class on soils and compost (which will be April 9, if you're in the area). The seed-starting class went very well - it is always a treat to teach, and I always come out learning more through the experiences participants share. Among other prospects this year we'll be back at Aullwood to teach Fall classes on grains and seed saving.

In miscellaneous other news, the county decided that the bridge on our road (and bordering our property) is not in great shape, and needs to be replaced. See photo at right, where the blotches down the center lane show the surface damage to be reminiscent of tooth decay. Too bad Google Earth couldn't get a side shot - rebar was actually falling out of the concrete underneath. Of course, we'd prefer they just tear it down and dead-end the road, but they weren't interested in our opinion. The upshot, since they weren't going to listen to us anyway, is that they had to cut a bunch of trees down to make way. These were cut into 18" lengths and filled Mom's large pickup truck six times. Thus we have heat for next winter. The workers also ground up the tops and gave us two dump truck loads of wood chips. Sadly, Alten is too young to fully appreciate the dump trucks, excavators, bulldozers and such.

So here we go! It's officially Spring, the days are getting longer, we're getting marginally more sleep, and the garden calls...
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