Thursday, September 24, 2009

Winter, layout of garden

What a glorious day! It was warm but not hot, and simply beautiful. I spent as much time outside as I could. Mowing the lawn was a delight.
I also planted out 18 Burpees two-season Chinese cabbage plants from my greenhouse window into the Johnny Seeds cold frame that some of you saw partially constructed on Saturday. Then I completed connecting the four sides of the cold frame. I hadn't noticed other years how unevenly it met the soil, but I did think about it this time and wondered if that was why the chipmunks last winter burrowed under the frame to eat some of MY food. Anyway, it seemed worth discouraging them this year. It was, of course, the soil's fault, not the cold frame's, that they didn't meet perfectly. I dug some compost from the compost pile and heaped it around the inside of the cold frame as a buffer. It almost seemed like a waste of compost, but I kept telling myself that keeping out those chipmunks is a worthy use of compost.

There has been no obvious mammal damage since the new garage floor was installed. I don't know whether it was taking away their adobe, or the sudden advent of many new anti-woodchuck plants that has made this great change, but I like it VERY MUCH. Last year after Jean gave me her anti-woodchuck plants, I had no woodchuck damage for eight months, and it may be that their offspring are now being effective. They have tucked themselves into a variety of imaginative spots, and I hope their effectiveness lasts longer than their parents'.
Before planting the Chinese cabbage but after taking out the bean plants that were there, I dug some of the top soil and put it in a well-used lasagne pan to bake for potting soil. This is the time of year to get ready to pot up the flower bulbs that will soon be arriving. It's too late to order from Fedco, but Dutch Gardens will still take your order if you want flowers this winter. You many remember that I bake one lasagne pan each of garden soil and compost and then mix them with about an equal amount of sand and vermiculite for my potting soil. It's much cheaper than the commercial stuff, and this year seems to avoid tomato blight.
One of you on Saturday observed that he liked my garden arrangement, "not in rows." I use the ancient Chinese method of intensive gardening, and have become so used to it, I don't even think to mention it these days. Rows are convenient for machinery, but they waste a lot of space, and don't preserve water the way wide beds do. John Jeavons, whose book I learned from, suggests 4' wide beds, but his arms are longer than mine. He also advocates never walking on the beds to keep the soil easy for the roots to penetrate, which I try to do. For more, consult his book, "How to Raise More Vegetables than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine."
The abundant growth makes the oxygen in the air luxurious, as one of my guests in July observed. Today was wonderful, and I kept trying to appreciate it while I can. One more week! Then the noise-makers will begin, and idyllic days like this will be a beautiful memory. I do wonder why anyone would want to use leaf blowers. Indeed, mowing the lawn today with a non-power mower was a lovely activity, but it will be a long time before I can convince others of that, despite evidence that it takes about the same amount of time and is easier.


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