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Saturday, 31 March 2012

March Leftovers

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March went faster than I expected. Some days I felt great! And then some days I did not, which comes along with the territory of incubating incoming human life (less than 16 weeks of this nonsense to go, hoorah! Everything is healthy and normal. It's very boring really). Regardless of how I actually feel each day, I'm getting things done - and there are more garden things being done than documented:

- all the tomato plants are now firmly in place. Not all the tomato CAGES are in place, but the plants have so far evaded the early spring aphid swarm and are standing pretty strong. Don't ask me about tomato spot though.
- bean and squash and cucumber seeds are propped on the edge of the porch getting themselves ready for an April emergence/planting. I learned last year that it's a pointless task to start them early. They know when it's time to grow, and as long as I give them soil and water, they'll take care of themselves.
- the hops are growing! Even if you don't homebrew, if you ever want a sure sign of spring, it's Cascade hops poking their leaves above the soil. This year begins the Great Relocation to raised beds (to protect them from gophers*), and the two that are in place are doing well.
- compost is being definitively turned, and the spaces that once held winter plants are being rehabbed, slowly, with much help from the last of the rain and piles of mulch.
- the weeds aren't too bad this year and are gradually being erased when there's the time, with care to leave spots for ladybugs and bees to flourish. Next year there will be even less, as long as I remember to reseed the edges in October with wildflowers and cover crops. It was very obvious where I neglected to do this. The Grass of Shame.
- all the trees are blooming. The Mulberry tree has had berries for weeks (that will no doubt be left to ferment away again), the apricot/plums have blossoms that lead me to hope that I might (might!) try turning the fruits into jam this year, and the persimmon is as bloody resilient as ever.
- I hold hope that I'll be able to keep the food coming through the summer, despite being hideously pregnant and then laden with a newborn. It's only outside. Outside is but a short way, and holding onto a normal activity should keep me sane. Even in 90-100F heat.

On the yarn front, I'm just destashing as much as possible, finishing UFOs and hoping that I'm making enough space. Space is at a premium until the baby finishes cooking and we can realistically figure out how much space he's going to take up. I'm hoping I can take a drawer back from the dresser in the spare bedroom that we've half filled with baby paraphernalia, but I don't hold much hope. I think it's Rubbermaid containers from here on out.

And so it goes.

*Gopher death count of 2012: two.

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Ladybugs







Although I'm not a big fan of buying live beasts bred for profit, the warm winter weather brought a massive onslaught of aphids to the raised beds this year. Heaving clusters of ashy grey aphids, ruining all in their path. Kale, bok choy... only my purple broccoli seems to have remained untouched. Last year I nearly lost one of my key heirloom tomato plants to a smaller wave of aphids around March and it did not make me happy.

Although I'm not starting from seed this year (too much attention required, I'll get back to that next spring), I didn't want to lose the seedlings (tomatoes, peppers and beans) we bought to supplement our summer garden either.  So, $9 for a hundreds of ladybugs that will be a lot happier in our yard than in a plastic tub at the store? That felt like a good deal when they'll be saving hours of work and at least $30 of plants. Go ladybugs go!

Plus, it was super fun releasing them and watching them swarm over the worst affected plants. It was like releasing doves at a wedding, only far more productive. My spinach in particular seems to be a favorite - which is ace, because I'm hoping (with a bit of luck and ingenuity) that I can keep it going through the summer. I chose thicker, larger varieties (Giant Noble and Gigante d'Inverno) that grew pretty large unassisted by fertiliser and managed not to bolt in 85-90F weather. So we'll see what happens there when summer gets down to doing it's thing, because that clock is definitely ticking.