February 21, 2005



A weekend of working in the yard, preparing for the 2005 garden. I harvested the remaining carrots and beets. Turned the yard waste compost and distributed some in the beds. Pulled out some of the kitchen scrap compost from the green cone and distributed that too. At the close of last year's garden, we bought a bale of straw to use as mulch over the winter. This all had to be turned into the soil. The straw hasn't broken down like I had hoped or expected. Perhaps due to the lack of rain this winter. I used a pitch fork to lift and turn over and distribute the dirt throughout the beds. Hard work. I then "cut" the grass with the weed whacker. I hate the lawn mower and it's really not necessary with our small yard. A few divots here and there are no matter to me. Overall the weed whacker does a cleaner job.

I wish we could cut down the damn holly tree in G's yard. It' huge and it blocks half the yard from the sun at a certain point in the day. I ran the idea past G about cutting it down. He really likes the tree so I dropped the idea. Besides, it does house dozens of birds and I wouldn't want to trash that.

Today we purchased two bales of straw. Amazingly, they fit into the back of my Mazda. They are smaller than the one we bought last year, 3/4 of which we still have. A few months ago it sprouted. Chia bale. All the straw in the beds also sprouted but perhaps has provided a nice cover crop that has now been worked into the soil and will break down.

Because the area of our lawn area is small and because vegetable gardening is much more productive and better for the world than maintaining an empty lawn, we are continually eliminating lawn and adding growing space. This year is no exception. Straw bale gardening is this year's project. We're adding another bed and using straw bales as the planting medium. We're going to speed up the composting process with some simple techniques to heat the area, add about 6 inches of soil/compost then plant. Apparently, the bales are good for 2-3 plantings. As time passes they naturally decompose and become part of the surrounding earth.

Yesterday I planted a few rows of beets, radishes, and lettuce in the cold frame. I left space for successive rows to be planted in a couple of weeks. The garlic is thriving and the leeks still maturing. Today I will plant some carrots and peas.

In the meantime, J has worked underthehouse to prepare it for storage. Neighbor G has been taking loads of crap away for us. Not sure where he is taking the crap. We don't question too much. Underthehouse (it's one word because it's one entity) has unearthed many surprises as well as many useful materials. Much of our garden has been constructed with material rediscovered underthehouse. Some of the furniture we use on the deck, wood, nails, tiles, rope, plastic, Rubbermaid containers, Christmas lights, chairs, small tables, chain, paint, etc., has materialized from underthehouse. In fact, on more than one occasion we have wished for certain materials and then found them underthehouse. No lie. When we planned to make a vermicomposter, we lamented that our only two Rubbermaid's already had been planted with potatoes. A trip underthehouse revealed two of the exact same containers. When reading up on the straw bale culture, we fretted over where to buy burlap. Saturday J found several burlap bags - underthehouse. A roll of black plastic appeared when we needed it for the last year's new tomato bed. Underthehouse has been a beneficial provider to our pursuit of urban agrigrowth. On the flip side, underthehouse is creepy and buggy. You can't stand up straight while under there and I keep having the image that things are getting caught in my hair. J is trying to organize this area. Perhaps organize is too strong a term but she's trying to create an area for storage and practical use. She is doing a fine job.

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