What will the church Garden Sale be showing this year?

Last year and every year: “We don’t sell anything that’s not invasive!” What we like!

The raspberries, being thorny, are my living fence against two- and four-legged critters on the sidewalk. So any fruit I get from them is a bonus.

Last fall, I mistreated at least half of them pretty badly; my understanding is that you should cut back only those raspberry canes that bear. But I was in a rush, so I cut back everything. (Also, I got a lot of fruit, but the Japanese beetles fouled most of it before I could eat it).

This spring, for whatever reason, the raspberries seem to be thriving, invading everywhere. That straw is from last year’s sheet mulch, plus some compost from this year, and “green compost” from a nearby path of (not quack) grass, clipped with garden shears (and not a mover).

I gave them some azomite on the forlorn theory that it would make their stems and leaves prickly, and so less likely to be eaten. The theory I really like is chitinase as a soil amendment or a foliar spray; I like the picture of their little chitin mandibles dissolving after they chew on my plants. Rumor has it that mussel shells contain chitinase — but then so do bananas!

Looks like the overnight rain settled the marble scraps down into the stone dust nicely. Everything seems to have leveled out, and the arrangement is pleasing to the eye. Maybe I’ll add some more scraps as I encounter them.

I especially like the squiggly scrap at top left — I now see that they echo my toes.

Yesterday I finished up the new path; here’s what it looks like!

I should have taken more pictures of the work in progress, but I was in a rush. And I improvised a lot from material that came to hand, like any good permaculturalist.

First I arranged the marble scrap in a pleasing fashion. This involved some digging and smoothing with a trowel to sink the scraps into the path, but level with the surface and the borders. (Because some of the scraps had sharp-ish edges, I didn’t lay them on top of the stone dust, like a Japanese garden might.) Sometimes I went over to the failed path and dug up some more scraps.

Then I thought things would be dull if the path had no floral border, so I arranged logs from the woodpile in parallel along sides of the path, like planters, and then filled them with seafood compost. Then I broadcast Wildflower and Pollinator-attracting seed mixes from Fedco into the planters. Here’s the arrangement: Read the rest of this entry »

Nature is sending a message to me: Get the seeds for the greens in the ground. And this time, in zone zero so you will actually eat them!

Tomorrow, the path will be complete, and I need to gear up for sheet mulching.

So I was prying up some flat marble scrap — no doubt once destined for countertops — out of the soil, because I wanted to move the stones from a failed path nobody was using to the new path I’m building. Here’s what happened:

When I lifted the stone, I discovered that an ant colony had built its tunnels flat against the stone, exactly as they will do against the flat glass of an ant farm! The stone was their ceiling, or possibly their sky, or even their heaven. (So there I am, an ant, and suddenly…)

The unceasing density and dynamism of life in the garden awes me. Granted, some of that life comes in the form of weeds, which I choose to eradicate, but I am still in awe even of the weeds, even if I don’t like them very much.

Tomato seedlings happy in their milk jugs (and after the cold snap, too!) These are Brandywine heirlooms.

Now, I know these are quite small compared to flats I could buy at the Farmer’s Market or even at the hardware store. And they are probably smaller than seedlings grown indoors under lamps.

However, by the end of the season, all the little plants will have caught up with the big ones, and all the tomatoes will be ripening more or less at the same time. And these plants are also hardened and thoroughly acclimated to my patch. Plus, I didn’t spend a dime on electricity for lamps, pots, or trays. In fact, the hardest work this season has been posting on this blog! And that’s the way the lazy gardener likes it.

Of course, winter sowing isn’t really an industrial scale operation. I wouldn’t want to manage an acre of milk jugs. But I’m into horticulture, not agriculture. Crossed fingers against blight, but I should end up with more than I can eat.

Oh, because I was ranting, I almost forgot the important point: We see again the pattern that cracks in the soil encourage sprouting, as does (I’m guessing) the little bit of extra warmth near the edge of the jug. But we also have seeds randomly sprouting in no pattern, even though the seeds were put into the jugs in a rough, 3×3 grid with a seed dispenser. So, in the pico-climate of the jug, the seeds move around in the soil. Why is that?

Because if I can understand why, perhaps I can make them happier, which is the kind of work I like do to.

Another super video, except for the “thumb partly over the lens” part!

Here’s hoping strong wind from is a sign this nasty cold front that’s been hanging around for what seems like forever is going to get blown away.

The bright side is that the plants have been loving what’s slow drip torture for us or at least me; everything is green, green, green! So we can expect an explosion of growth when the sun comes out, starting (we hope) tomorrow.

Which is when I’m going to get all my sheet mulch down, trapping all that good moisture in my soil!

So far, I’ve only had one seed sprout: The one in this jug. The squash are always late, and always srprout after I give up, so maybe I should just give up and accelerate the process. Two new things I’ve never seen before:

A snail! We’ve had a wet few days here, so I guess that’s why I’m seeing it (not them, so far, just it). But I’ve never seen a snail in a winter sowing milk jug before. This is a first.

Second, some of the squash seeds have ended up on the surface of the soil. That can’t have made them happy, but I don’t see how it would happen.

Endless problems with the squash this year!

This is a round from the Norway Maple I cut down two years ago. I stacked it on the stump so I can put flowerpots on it. In the wet over the last few days, the bark came away from the trunk, to reveal….

What? Egg sacs? Cocoons? I don’t know! I’ll have to monitor them to see.

NOTE This is something else I would never have seen without the daily discipline of finding something to post from the iPad!