Friday, April 9, 2010

Folklore & Phenology Fun

When I posted this picture on my other blog, , Mom saw it and told me about that visit (she was the photographer). Bernie was Grandpa's farm hand and lived on a house on the farm. In 1966 my parents and grandparents left the farm and moved to California. This was taken about 5 years later when back in Missouri for a visit. Mom said that Bernie had a great big garden at his place with a tree stump set just beside it. In the stump was an ax. He would set the ax with the handle facing into prevailing winds/weather to "split" any storm to miss the garden.

We've had such warm weather so far that everything seems to be coming too early. This past week I transplanted into the garden & raised bed: lettuce, spinach, giant leeks, basil, cilantro, bok choy, tat soi, & endive. The new and 2nd year asparagus is beginning to emerge.

The redbuds have been blooming and now the dogwoods, too. Some gardening folklore says to plant tomatoes and peppers when dogwoods bloom, but other says to plant tomatoes when lily of the valley or daylilies bloom, and my lily of the valley is only just emerging from the ground now and my lilies don't have buds yet. I'm going to fall on the side of better safe than sorry.

The forsythia and dandilions are in full bloom which means the crabgrass is germinating. Now is the time to weed & feed the lawn. Also, we are  in the moon's 4th quarter which is not a time for planting. From the 7th-15th is a time for weeding, fertilizing, making compost, pruning,  and other preparations. The lilac is in early bloom so I can now plant beans (after the 15th).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday folklore & phenology

"The fair weather gardener, who will do nothing except when the wind and weather and everything else are favorable, is never master of his craft." - Henry Ellacombe

My Soil Test Kit Results
pH ~ 7.5
N = very low
P = very high
K = medium
I was suprised by the alkaline pH because I haven't added wood ashes to the garden in 3 years, and last years potatoes did not have any scab issues. My theory is test error ( I put too much soil with the water). The nitrogen was so low it was off the chart.  It took me a day to realize why. Three weeks ago when I tilled the garden there was still quite a bit of old straw on the surface. It must be binding the nitrogen as it decomposes. Even though I took the soil sample from 4" below the surface, I still had to skim out bits of straw from the solution to do the test. I already added rabbit poo but I'll also side dress with blood meal when the plants get going. The phosphorous was shockingly high. Last year we added quite a bit of a very fine compost that we bought at the farmers market. It was made from cattle waste (manure, but also bone & blood meal from slaughter) and lumbermill waste (sawdust, which should have been acidifying so, go figure).  With a reading this high I think I'm good for the season. The potasium was right on target.

"Each small task of everyday life is part of the total harmony of the universe." - St. Theresa of lisieux

The full moon on March 29  was the Worm moon. This was the last winter moon. The soil is warming and the worms are coming up. Fortunately I tilled before they surfaced and so disturbed far fewer that if I had waited.
Other names for this moon are:
   Fish Moon, Lenten Moon, Sap Moon (Colonial America)
   Windy Moon, Big Famine Moon, Moon When Eyes Are Sore From Bright Snow, Crust Moon, Crow Moon, Maple Sugar Moon (Native American)

Since we are in a waning moon phase this is the best time to focus below the ground. Plant perennials since they need good root systems. Plant root crops like carrots, potatoes, turnips, beets & bulbs. Plant strawberries during the waning moon because the especially need a strong root system. Eliminate slugs. Prune shrubs since the water table is diminishing and less sap will flow. Next week, the 4th quarter & darkest of the moon, is the most dormant and best time to cultivate weeds and do other non-planting chores.

Blooming this week:  daffodils, forsythia, maple tree, dandilions.  Peonies are up about 12 inches.  Lilies are up about 8 inches.