Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 19-22

The previous weekend may have been a wash, but I did get back in the wong of things this week, beginning with a rare weekday afternoon off, during which I expanded and then planted the potato bed, planted some old wild onion bulbs (maybe no good, but better in the garden than in a cabinet), planted some bulbs found during fieldwork that I am pretty sure are camas, and consolidated various weed-contaminated heaps. Oh, and I dug holes for hops.

This weekend, I transplanted Hallertauer, Glacier, and maybe Chinook (pretty small and weak) hops into holes along the south side of the house. Both Glacier and Hallertauer were already going off, a foot or more of bine already climbing; I separated off some of each, planting th Glaciers and potting the other. The south side hops bed gets pretty good sun and is between my house and the neighbor, where air flaw seems pretty decent. I have 3 of six holes filled there, and can probably expand later. Meanwhile, the hops planted previosuly along the north fence are peaking out of their pine needle blanket, and I set the climbing twines (they run up about 20 feet to an old nautical block attached to a tree, then down to a railroad spike low on the trunk--the idea being that when they're ready, I cut the lines at the spike and the bines come down for easy harvest).

I also transplanted a serviceberry, blanketflower, and about 5 scraggly blueberries from Brown street. The blueberries are along the south side willow fence (as is the extra Glacier hops), about 5-6 feet south of the first row. My plan is to remove any grass in between and use coniferous mulch (plenty of pine needles will fall here anyway). I'd like to sneak in an understory of strawberries or something native, but that's not urgent.

I did water all the new plantings today, but the timing for planting was close to optimal anyway. A few weeks ago might have been better, but neither hops nor berries were really leafed out prior to planting, and nothign really seems to have been shocked. Weather was cool and overcast most of the week, and the ground moist without being super-saturated.

It looks like poppies have sprouted, or else I have a bumper crop of some sort(s) of weeds coming on.

Not really sure what I'll do with all the sod being generated by making and expanding beds. Most of it has dandelions and buttercup, so it's not really great for grass. I'll probably use some to mess with micro-terrains so that any surface runoff heads into the blueberry patch, but then again maybe not. There are really no areas where there's no grass now that it's needed, and ultimately sods may go into the weed-soil heap.

Speaking of which, the warming and lengthening days are waking up weeds in said heap. This week, it went from brown to splattered with green as dandelions, bindweed/morning glory, and buttercups began growing again. No sign of composting within, and a lot of these weeds are likely to just keep sprouting, even after turning and burial and so on. Options seem to be:
  • getting them off the property (rids me of weeds, but also worms, loam, and nutrients)
  • put it into black garbage bags, tying them shut, and waiting for everythin inside to die (retains the material, but the outcome is slimy and may house slugs, but few worms)
  • keep moving the heap around, killing weeds each time, getting rid of them through attrition (retains the material and leaches nutrients into the ground below, but also increases risk of weed propagation and uses up space for a long-term proposition)
  • shovel a little bit into the fire every time I have one (should really kill the weeds, mixes them with charcoal and ash, but also kills worms and micro-organisms, and will take a long time).
  • spread it on the driveway in the summer heat, letting the sun do the dirty work (lose a parking space, risk weed propogation, and kills worms and micro-orgs)
  • screening (takes a very long time to get all the weeds out, and is not totally effective)
 In the end, it may be a mix of methods. Quick and easy as it would be, I'm loathe to cart away a couple of yards of soil and organics. Although it retains all the soil and biomass, the death-by-black bag method means having heavy-ugly, slug-ridden bags around til the Fall. So yeah, it'll probably be a mix of the other approaches. May as well throw some in the fire, or screen a batch for potting soil or compost, and keep the pile moving (I keep finding mega-worms in places where these weed-heaps formerly resided)

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