Archives for the month of: March, 2012

I don’t know whether these crocus only came up today, or whether I only noticed them for the first time, today. Whatever, they’re pretty young. And if this blog were more than a year old, instead of less than a year old, I’d know that planting was safe x number of days from the first crocus (at least on this patch of land). I would also have the sequencing (phenology) in mind, so I would know whether it’s usual (again, on this patch of land) or not for lilacs to have budded before the crocus emerge.

The shot doesn’t show this (maybe next time) but the thyme is planted inside slightly raised bed with a rock border. I wonder if the rock serves a heat sink, warming the soil for the crocus.

Two days of snow and a bit of cold didn’t harm the buds at all. Though they didn’t make any progress, either; they’re the same size as last week. Then again, maybe they’re as big as they get, and now some internal, enflowering, process takes over. I guess we’ll see! Which is the nice thing about taking pictures every day; it sharpens the vision.

Yeah, “haybale ties.” Orange, petroleum-based. Ick. I think they’re straw bales, actually, for sheet mulch (no seeds). But “hay bales” are what we call them, straw though they may be… Anyhow, I cheat: I order mine from Blue Seal!

I went to Maine Soup’s monthly meeting at the Bangor Grange Hall last night; here’s a shot of two of the organizers under the pretty lights , as they’re about to announce the skillful winner:

Like other soup groups across the country, Maine Soup offers an evening of mingling, eating soup and listening to local artists describe their projects in 2-3 minute presentations. Admission to the event is $5 which goes toward the pot of money that one lucky artist will win based on a voting process at the end of the night. Whether you have a project to fund or not, RSVPs are required and artists who do wish to present need to submit project proposals beforehand.

I tagged the organizers as “modest” because I can’t find their names on Maine Soup’s Facebook page. That seems right to me; Maine Soup seemed very much to be about inclusion and co-operation in a low-key and hard-working community where every starving artist is a star — without the celebrity connotation! Very Maine. Very Bangor Maine. Echt Maine, as my mother would say. Also, it’s fantastic that the Grange Hall is being used for a soup group, because the Grange has such a rich history, so appropriate for these times. Well worth the five bucks, especially since the money goes to help others.*

A better project won, but this was the project I pitched. It’s in the great Maine tradition of leaving free stuff by the side of the road:

The project part is in the square boxes: The FREE Vegetable stand and the FREE Little Library. I think this project would be good for the town, especially if other people in Orono start doing the same thing, because it would encourage a “gift economy.” Here’s a link to the “little library” project, which is an example of a gift economy, just like giving away free vegetables would be.

NOTE * I was, however, shocked, shocked to find out there would be no bingo!

Snow again! “No significant accumulation”? Tell that to the lilac buds!

Snow in Maine on March 28?!?!?! Well, maybe not so incredible, but coming after 80° F weather last week, it sure seems weird. Or back to normal. Or both.

I shouldn’t whine, though; it’s not a hard freeze. We’ve got it easy up here!

This is my other set of windchimes; I thought the gardening tools were…. Geez, what’s a word for “cute” that guys can use?

The pink flowerpots are trying to be rain collectors; but they aren’t very good, are they? Because they hang at an angle, they fill fast, and they’d be unable to distinguish between a shower and a storm.

Maybe I should get a real rain gauge, just for grins. Although I’d have to write down the results every day, and that sounds like work. Maybe an Arduino rain gauge that would take the metrics and store the data automagically….

Here’s the straw layer of the sheet mulch I laid down over the new beds near the sidewalk I’m going to plant this year, when I figure out what I want to plant. Despite being near the traffic, it’s in good shape.

I didn’t border these beds with bricks because bricks are pricey, and I haven’t discovered any chimneys being demolished around town, which is where I got the last batch from. But logs do the trick!

Notice how the Norway Maple Leaf is disfigured with cancerous dark-colored spots. That tree is a disease vector I should cut down, dry, and then heat the house with, although I do use the leaves to bank the house and mulch the beds. Trade-offs!

And I don’t know what that seed pod is; I grew some snow peas last year, but this looks like a pretty big pod for a snow pea. Maybe I’m being sent a message about what to grow in the new beds!

The tenacity of this honeysuckle isn’t shown by its pale pink Summer-in-March buds, but by its intertwining stems.

The eastern sky, looking out the kitchen window. There’s a moment when the sun sinks below the cloud cover in the west, and its rays turn the trees gold and the clouds pink.

Tonight, that moment lasted for just one shot.

I did another test of soil temperature, this one while the “Summer in March” heatwave had just ended. The pitchfork is an inch-and-a-half deeper into the soil than last time, showing that the earth continues to “defrost.”

As you can see, the soil temperature is five degrees cooler than it was the last time I measured it.

I’m guessing the seeming paradox of lower frost line and lower soil temperature is resolved when I consider that (a) a temperature above freezing will cause the earth to defrost, and (b) soil temperature, at least at the depth of a squash mound, probably fluctuates a lot more than I imagined. Maybe I should do some readings at different times of the same day to prove this to myself.

Meanwhile, it’s fascinating to think of the frost line sinking deeper and deeper into the earth, finally disappearing at the depth that the winter cold could never penetrate. Then, whatever’s under there wakes up, and starts heading to the surface….