Thursday, April 3, 2014

Uh, Happy New Year, and Hurray For Spring!

Yeah, it's a bit early for another post, according to the Procrastinators Rules, but here goes. The winter was cold all the time, with really cold weeks on two occasions, leaving us 6+ inches of snow each time, with the second snows made really messy with a bit of rain. Trees and branches took out electrical power, but thanks to the power company crews, we were down only for hours, not days. Lots of catalog time, but no way to do any garden building!
This Japanese maple was thinned somewhat, so no branches gave way.

Frozen jungle, but at least it looks pretty...

The river rose to "flood stage" level, but it raced by furiously then receded.

And then, the sun came out, and Japanese maples began to leaf out.

Ta Da! Now the layer building has begun, and there's tons of cardboard to pile on.

Each of those five rows is nearly five feet wide, and they are about twentyseven feet long. The lawn clippings start about eight or more inches thick, matting down with rain and molehills-dirt. The cardboard is easier to handle when dry, but obviously, some of it over-wintered on the grass... OK, I know it will grow back, so I just carry stacks of more cardboard out, and wait for a dry day to mow again. There's a good-sized brush pile behind the fence, but it is nasty thorny crap, fit only for torching on a no-wind day. I have at least 4 other piles to burn, too.

I managed to run some soil tests with A&L Labs just to see how to correct the deficiencies. PH is 5.1 - nice, if you are a blueberry. Nitrogen is ridiculously low, but iron is OK. They advise about twenty tons 280 lbs of dolomite for 1000 sq ft, but that will take all year to apply in stages. I just hope the fruit trees forgive me for the boot-camp pruning that was done to remove the broken and split parts after the black bears mauled them in search of rotty old scabby fruit. I'm trying to fix a crappy little chipper, to put through some of the trimmed-off branches to help on the garden beds. It wasn't expensive unless it won't work, but I'll have something for my cousin (St.) Vinnie if it's dead.

The one good thing I found this Spring is the great clean-up of the mower and string  trimmer/strimmer/weedwhacker. I used MowDeck and Clean Machine only a couple of times before winter arrived, but I was surprised to see how easily the tools shed the cuttings - they washed right off! No caked-on concretions, and only a faint green tint on some parts, which I could polish off if I was getting a white-glove inspection. I need to touch up the mower blades, but they still look almost new. I'm happy, because I mowed a lot of hidden crap in the grass, hitting branches, stone and dirt molehills, and acres of really way overgrown grass last year. I actually like to mow, but some day, I just have to get a tractor. Seriously.


  1. Wow, I'm tired just reading about all of that! The garden beds look wonderful, can't wait to see how they perform once you are done lasagna-ing. Did you build them or were they already in place?
    I have a little case of tractor envy myself ; )

  2. Aloha, Julie! I staked out the garden bed areas last fall, allowing a bit wider "footprint" for each row, and tied some polypro cord to outline them. Winter arrived a bit early, so progress got parked. They align with the prevailing wind when it comes along, but I just didn't like the look of the location when I started to align the rows in a magnetic North/South pattern, so they are sort of East/West. Eventually, I have planned to replace the string with foot-high four-inch thick walls. I'm doing that project as an experiment, originally thought up in Maui, but it ought to succeed anywhere. I'm gathering the odd bits and pieces to make those wall sections from thrift shops, yard sales, and such. We still are patching up and remodeling the house, so that takes top priority.
    Hey, everyone should get a tractor! I am learning (slowly) about those little iron horses by lurking at and, I most likely will get a little Kubota. It's soooo tempting!

  3. Nice to see you posting an update. Cardboard is a gardener's best friend! It will be interesting to see how the new garden unfolds. It must be a challenge to deal with bears after Hawaii.

  4. Ya, Ien, I had so little to write about earlier, but now it's warming up and the green stuff is springing up everywhere. I love the way the cardboard is making neat layers, with the grass clippings, branch trimmings, and some dirt. The fruit trees are budding and leafing right along, so I may get some edible fruit (if I get some food to the roots!).