Thursday, May 7, 2009

April Showers...

This has been a very wet spring in my area - though not quite as bad as in others - my house didn't get destroyed by flood waters. However, this means that there have been few opportunities to plant so far this spring - for peas, spinach, potatoes, and lettuce. Also, after several years of "trying no till" aka not getting the old rototiller to work and planting anyway, I set to trying to make the aged beast run. See, it's a 1985 5 HP Briggs and Stratton motor on a Quality Farm and fleet rototiller, front tines. And the last time it worked was about 6 years ago. A week of work and a new magneto got it to the point of having a spark. And now its carburetor seems to be the next hurtle. But as there were torrential rains predicted for Wed., and a friend wanted to expand his garden, a rental was called for.

Expanding a garden/breaking sod is hard work. Most advice will say some version of smother the grass, then start next spring. There is a reason for this - sod is a survivor. After 4 passes with the rototiller - grabbing out clods of grass and raking smooth in between - there were still places that didn't seem to have been touched. However, it was far too much work - with the only available tiller - a 6 HP front tine - to contemplate another pass.

My homegarden - compacted clay as it is - was a breeze in comparison - 2 passes 90 degrees from each other and my soil was airy and begging to be planted. Hopefully even happier since I've finally added some admendments to the soil - besides the mowed down plants and some leaves left to rot over the winter. I must say though, I can't understand if anyone actually adds 2 inches of peat moss or other admendments every year - how gardening could be frugal.

So I've started a real compost heap - rather than just a pile in the corner - I've got old pallets holding in a pile of leaves and kitchen veg scraps and weeds piling up. Perhaps this will break down in time to use it next year.

But adding to the soil was a must this year. Last year my crop of tomatoes was pathetic - of course we had way too much rain, too much heat, and there was more shade on the garden than in years past, plus a late start. But adding to the soil is something I can control - and tilling to see if I can grow properly shaped carrots was just about pride.

But the kicker is - my garden is fully planted - not really frost safe - but full. I have zukes, yellow squash and watermelon under row cover. 3 Early Girl tomatoes in Walls of water. 1 cuke in a Wall of water, and one basil. The herb corner has been mulched and added to with transplanted chives, 4 types of thyme, the afforementioned basil, and parsley - with a juice jug cloche over cilantro seeds. And I used cocoabean mulch - which looks pretty, and smells like cocoa.

I'm out of space. And there are no green or lima beans - or any heirloom tomato plants - or swiss chard. So there is a spot south of my garden between two tall fir trees - that is pretty much hidden - and seems awfully tempting to convert from weedy lawn.

So solarization with clear plastic - then perhaps a run of the tiller - if the carb can be cleaned to work? A challenging prospect - yet very tempting.... But not worth renting again - can't justify the cost there. Last year we had a frost May 25. If I stake out clear plastic, there's still about 2 weeks until that date. Perhaps... But the shade - and I've already got a full set of weeding...

On the other hand - there are a lot of weeds in that grass. :)

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