Monday, November 21, 2011

A Winter Harvest

Today was a great family gardening day. We got up this very grey morning and had to beat the rain. I spelled grey that way so it feels like a British cold, dark morning. Nonetheless the family rallied and we kicked some serious butt today.

We weeded the entire garden, pulled out tons of old vegetation, spaded, tilled in compost and fertilizer, and planted two whole parcels with seed. Paige was quite the seed planter with four varieties of carrots, two varieties of beets, two types of broccoli, kale, strawberries, and snow peas. Some may work and some may not. We are planting mostly heirloom varieties.

We also picked a ton of vegetable today with surprising results. Even after three nights of frost, a few early rains and Santa Ana winds we are finding zucchini, corn, squash, bell peppers, watermelon, eggplant, tomatoes, pole beans, and beets. The herbs seem like they may grow well year round.

I dig the soil. It is just amazing to me how well the soil has transformed from dirt – clay basically – to dark, rich, and alive soil. The earthworms have exploded underground. I am only spading lightly to no more than six inches to mix in the rotting straw mulch, some additional compost and Dr. Earth organic fertilizer, There are sow bugs, grubs, mushrooms, decaying matter and other crazy stuff living in the soil with its own secret world. As the garden matures I plan to till less and less so as to not disturb such a fascinating and hidden society.

The compost is store bought for now until our compost pile regenerates after last spring’s planting used all of our supply. Fortunately the animals have not stopped giving us new material. The pile right now is about twelve feet square, four feet high and growing.. The center is warm and should stay hot even in the dead of winter making it ready for springtime use. We are putting household green waste in there along all the animal supplies. It is quite a rich mix and the chickens do a great assist in stirring it up on a daily basis.

It has now been heavily raining for the last four hours. We are well over an inch today which puts our rainfall total since October first over five inches. We seem to be off to a start of a very wet winter. I just went outside before dark to check on the property to make certain that the rain was flowing right in all the ways which it is. The creek is flowing with much needed water. The duck seems happy, the pea hen is sleeping out in the rain on her favorite perch and the horses are standing out in the rain. All is good at the ranch.

LATE NIGHT UPDATE: This evening my upper right arm was hurting increasingly. I finally pulled up my shirt to take a look and found a tick burrowing into my skin! Lime disease and yellow fever here we come. Allison had a great time digging it out.

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