Thursday, April 22, 2010

earth day, green beans and aquifers

One of these days has got to be 'earth day' - but I don't know which one. We've been subjected to earth day references, exhortations, imprecations, sales pitches and home remedies for months now!

In the news today: the Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted at an alarming rate. It turns out that the original survey report of the Louisiana land purchase may have been correct:

I do not hesitate in giving the opinion that it is almost wholly unfit for cultivation, and of course, uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence.

We, of course, have found ways to grow things on the Great Plains for some time now, but it appears that time is running out. Dave Thier's article to that effect is here, together with the fearful implications of what happens when we can't grow things there anymore.

Meanwhile, I have been advised that one bean plant produces only about 12 beans per plant; twenty, at best. If I'm going to want to eat my own beans this summer, I'm going to have to have a lot of bean plants! And no, I had not considered having a bean-box-garden. There will be some beans, of course, but other things, as well! Tomatoes, lettuce, hot peppers, artichokes, carrots, radishes - I fear there will be no room for flowers. . . . I'm putting beans in wherever I can tuck one away, though.

It's harder to be self-sufficient on the land than one would think. Especially if one lives in a greenwood and wants keep the 'wood' part of it. This is a little depressing.

Happy earth day, whenever it is!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

violas and tulips - fall and spring

These are the prettiest violas I think I've ever seen. I chanced to buy two small plants last spring (from Homestead Gardens down the road) and had enough forethought to save some seed pods. One plant survived the multiple multiple-foot snowfalls this winter, and started blooming in the front pot as soon as the snow disappeared. I discovered several progeny manfully leafing out in the gravel below the front pot!

I dug them out of the gravel and divvied them up between the two pots at the front door. Then I dug out the seeds from last year. Even the seed pods are pretty! I need a whole lot more of these guys around; I've sown them everywhere.

My new motto: violas [and violets] welcome here, anywhere. Even in the strawberry pot! (and yes, I found one peeking out from one of the strawberry pot holes just the other day.)

In other garden news, remember the tulip bed plan last fall? Here's what it looked like at the height of bloom. Looks like a bowl of candy, doesn't it? Credit to the king for the descriptive phrase and the queen-mum for the idea to begin with! We'll be doing that again, let me tell you.

The deer, squirrels and mice appear not yet to know how tasty tulips are. . . .

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

box wood and gardens

I can't believe I haven't written about this yet - it's been a week now; no, two!

I have elsewhere complained - long, loud and hard - about the soil Tom-builder left in the one reliably sunny spot here at the greenwood; the one spot any decent gardener would choose to put a garden. Apparently it was also the one spot any normal man-of-a-builder would choose upon which to make concrete, mix noxious chemicals, dump excess rock and gravel, concrete dust, brick and granite debris, wood shavings and pieces, and stucco fixings. The result? A gray quagmire of either a stoney swamp or cracked desert (depending on the weather) that even dandelions shunned.

Not that I'm bitter about it.

Not at all.

Not that I recall - with astonishment - that at one time I actually believed the many reassurances that he fully understood that this favored workspot/dumping ground of his was destined to grow our vegetables and flowers, and that he would restore it to pristine, loamy top-soil condition before he left. Not that I haven't brought it up, just a few times since then. . . . But we've decided not to talk about that any more. Not much anyway.

Instead: look what the king and king-father have done! Ha! Behold the box garden. But I get ahead of myself. First, the power tools. We had staked out the ground and our neighbor, Roger, took pity on us and gave the land a bit of a tilling before we started. We hauled out wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of large rocks! Oh - and to those who ask if we put down the weed/grass-inhibiting paper? Heh?! Ah - no. Weeds don't grow there. . . . let alone grass. Oh. But we'd decided we weren't going to talk about that any more, didn't we? Right. Well then, moving on. Level, square, and several pairs of hands worked on this together. And my full weight on this, too, to stabilize the box being put together. We decided to go with a formal box garden look. There is no reach greater than 4 feet - to make sure you don't have to step into the garden to tend to it. Luther, of course, was a big help. As were the horses down the street. One load of sand, one of forest loam, one of horsey-do. Repeat. Mix well. Up front, there are now box of a different sort - the box wood. They are the new footmen here at the greenwood. I love box.

More box garden pictures to come, as they get planted. So far, they are germinating loads of sugar snap peas, beans, artichokes, morning glories and cosmos. I've also risked a few tomato plants, some eggplant, parsley, basil, cilantro and wild salads. Apparently marigolds are a must, so they dot the landscape as well, although I have never cared much for them. I'll try and get more 'before' pictures and hope that come August, I'll be amazed to see the transformation!

wild turkey and clover

The spring is beautiful here. Everywhere I look is evidence of what is written in the ancient song: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." *

Found here the other day, by the king, a four-leaf clover; AND a five-leaf clover. One friend wanted to know what was in the water here! We wondered ourselves when we looked out the window yesterday and saw this: That is one big bird! What is it?! I've never seen one in person, but I do believe it's a wild turkey. Of the female persuasion.

Luther alerted us this morning to the fact that she was back again today, this time strolling in the back woods. She was unconcerned with Luther's barking.

Did you know that Ben Franklin would have preferred a turkey over the bald eagle as our national bird? Franklin wrote his daughter in 1784 that the Bald Eagle was "a bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his living honestly." [Why do I want to smile when I imagine Franklin saying those words? . . . . bird of bad moral Character. . . . BAD bird. . . .]

Speaking for the Turkey, Franklin wrote: "the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."

I trust that our Turkey is a good Bird, who will not attack us, who already live here! Franklin speaks well of them, and as a portrait of Franklin hangs in the library, we hope to presume on the acquaintance. With or without red Coats on. . . .

*Psalm 19