Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sowing Seeds for Spring

 Friday was a gorgeous day fit for gardening and cupcakes - so that's what we did. I dusted off my tools from the shed, ran my fingers through some good dirt, and enjoyed a dozen cupcakes with my friends. Warm days in winter always have this effect on me. I am thrilled to shave my legs and wear shorts, I want to plant things, and I want to be outside all day from the moment the sun comes up - it's suddenly so easy to forget the frigid days of winter that will probably return any day.

I have high hopes for a fertile spring garden this year, so I'm getting a jump on things. I've begun first with my herb garden including Mint, Spearmint, Chamomile, English Thyme, Cilantro, and Rosemary. Oh and little catnip for Charlemagne.

  For now I'm using some egg cartons as transplant trays, and I'll let you know how that works out. I found them for free, and I imagine they'll be great as long as I don't leave them out in the rain and they don't disintegrate before I am ready to transplant.
We also planted two saplings - an Oak Tree and a Redbud. These came as "swag" from the Green Life Expo in Athens a couple weeks ago, so they may be two dried out by now, but I have hope for some big trees one day!
 Here are a couple bonuses from my Organic Agriculture class. After winter pruning, a bunch of raspberry cuttings - Anne and Heritage varieties - were being thrown away or taken home by my classmates. Again, I wasn't super prompt about planting them, but I hope they can still become adjusted to a new home and produce lovely berries for the summer. On the right is a sugar gum log inoculated with shittake mushroom spawn. Each inch in diameter means one year of  production, so I'll have about four Falls of fresh shittake mushrooms. It's a wonder more people don't grow their own mushrooms really.

Now that I think about it, this post is less about anticipation for spring and more about my inability to get things planted in a timely fashion...which brings me to the daffodil bulbs I purchased in the fall. For Georgia's planting zone, these ought to have been planted from October to December. I planted a row of 7 just in case, along with an Aloe plant. Don't you love the color of Aloe plants? It's such a fresh light mint. But beware, these plants have many sharp and unfriendly edges. Now that I think about it, they look almost extraterrestrial.

Finally, it's important to keep the momentum of your garden going all year long by maintaining a compost bin and thinking about establishing a cover crop to facilitate Nitrogen fixation in the soil after a season of production. I put together a very simple compost box out of 4 pallets attached with nails and wire. By turning the mix every couple weeks and keeping it slightly moist, the decomposition rate ought to be about 3-6 months.
Out in the garden bed, I've removed all the remaining crops and planted Crimson Clover as a cover crop. Tiny plants are beginning to germinate that will grow for about 4 weeks. These should then be dug out and turned under before they go to seed. If allowed to decompose for another 4 weeks, the Nitrogen fixated during their growth will be reincorporated back into the soil.

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