Friday, February 20, 2009

In which I talk about a lot of different things before I finally get down to the point

For those of you who were feeling jealous that I'm already talking about gardening in February:

It snowed here on Wednesday.

Really hard.

For about 20 minutes.


Actually, it's been....well, like winter here lately. (Surprise!) I did do some garden work yesterday without a coat on, but this morning the temperature was below 20 degrees again.

Ahhh, yesterday....

...Yesterday was lovely. You know those perfect days you dream about? I had one yesterday.

It all started when I actually woke up early enough to pray, read, and study my Bible for over an hour. I aim for that every day, but lately I've been hitting the snooze so many times that I might as well have not set my alarm.

So I had a lovely devotion time. I was wrapped in my red bathrobe, cozily snuggled on the couch with my Bible, my journal, and the concordance spread out beside me. The house was quiet with dark corners, and I had time to pull myself together for the day. That quiet hour helps so much. I don't know why I hit my snooze button.

Breakfast was beautiful. Like out of a magazine. Blueberry Baked French toast, with whipped cream on top. A tall glass of orange juice. A cup of hot tea, sipped from my delicate blue and white teacup (gift from Heather last Christmas). I wanted so much to take a picture. It was all so perfectly arranged; from the blue and white teacup and shiny silverware, to the vibrant colors of the food. I enjoyed every bite and sip.

I started the day dressed to my shoes, with hair fixed pretty but practical, and clothes that made me feel "nice," but ready for work. Nothing like feeling prepared to give one energy!

I had made out a "To Do" list the night before, and I felt so ready to cross things off. First I tidied my bedroom. I dusted my precious bookshelf and the photo frames on top of it. So nice to have things clean! The glass in my picture frames now shines.

I paused to spend some time with my little sister. I combed Lezley's hair for her, listened to her practice piano, and just enjoyed being with her.

Then I spent the rest of the morning in the kitchen having fun. I made up a batch of bread dough, in preparation for supper, and then had the delight of creating a new recipe. This time it was for coleslaw. I'd been craving that for a long time. I'd never made it before, so I just put whatever smelled good into the bowl, tasted, and added some more. I love that kind of freedom! It makes me feel so rich.

After lunch, (yummy coleslaw!) I spent some quiet time in my room doing computer work. I've volunteered to help a homeschooling-family-run business that's based here in our town, and I had some research to do in relation to that. I felt like quite the secretary.

Then I livened up and cleaned the bathroom from top to bottom; toilet, tub, sink, floor. Sparkle!

Then I could no longer resist the call of the garden. Dad was already out there working, and I just had to join him. We spent an hour out there digging. We're preparing the soil for when our transplants are big enough and the weather is warm enough. The soil is so rich and black this year! The green manure crops that have been growing all winter are now ready to be turned under. What hard work that is! But so satisfying, too.

I turned under the soil of my little herb bed, then moved to a larger one; 16'x4'.

Put the spade's blade on the earth; stomp on it! Lean onto the handle; lift it! Turn the spadeful over; smell the richness of the dirt! Repeat 20 times. Pause. Put a hand over your heart and feel the powerful thumping. Lift your face and see two hawks flying between you and the vast blue expanse above. Notice the lazy clouds drifting by. Watch Dad shoveling near by. Take deep breaths of crisp air. Bend over the spade again. See God's hand everywhere.

The hours spent in the garden are the loveliest of my day. I take great satisfaction in them.

But I came inside at 4:00 to get some sewing done. I was feeling very inspired. I have 2 projects going already, and I had just had ideas for 4 more! I searched my stash and found cloth for my new projects, fingered it longingly, and turned to work diligently on my current project; a white dress for spring. The design is my own, and it was giving me a lot of trouble. I gathered up all the wit and skill I have to throw at it, and rejoiced in the effort.

At 5:00 I went back to the kitchen to make supper. I love it when Mom lets me take over a meal on short notice. I made what we call perogies; golden brown bread filled with sauce, sausage, and cheese. I made them look like little tarts this time, baked in muffin tins. We had peas, too, and of course that got us starting talking around the supper table about the time - fast approaching - when we will be eating our own peas.

Garden-planning on paper after supper with Dad....Family Bible Time in the book of John...chit chat in the living room...a warm shower...soft pajamas...cozy bed...turning through the pages of Psalms for one last thing to think on as I go to sleep...being blessed by Psalm 65...reading it again...and again...flipping off the lamp...a dark bedroom...whispers with a sister...drifting off to sleep. The perfect end to a perfect day.

Oh well. Enough about yesterday. Let me get to the point of this post. (You thought I was just giving a history-in-the-life-of-Amber-lesson, didn't you?) :)

For those of you who live in the cooler regions of this planet, and aren't able to get out in your dirt yet. :( Poor you! ) Here is something you can do; plan crop rotations!

Planting the same crop in the same place year after year can be very harmful to your plants. Diseases will build up, pests will always know where to look for their snack, and the plants will miss out on the benefits they could have had from things that are left behind in the soil when other plants grow there. Any old farmer will tell you that you need to switch your crops around; crop rotation. Here are some tips I found in "The New Organic Grower" by Eliot Coleman: (if my explanations seem redundant and annoying, please forgive me. I'm talking to myself.)

Crop Rotation

~ Legumes are generally beneficial preceding crops (They will help whatever you plant in that soil next year.)
~ Onion, lettuce, and squash are generally beneficial preceding crops.
~ Potatoes yield best after corn. (Plant them where you had corn last year.)
~ For potatoes; peas, oats, and barely as preceding crops increase scab. (DON'T plant potatoes where you had peas, oats, or barely last year.)
~ Corns and beans are generally not greatly influenced in any bad way by the preceding crop. (Plant them wherever the "dangerous" crops were last year.)
~ Liming and manuring help, but do not totally overcome the negative effects of the preceding crops.
~ Carrots, beets, and cabbage are generally detrimental to subsequent crops. (These are the "dangerous" crops.)
~ Sweet corn is one of the most beneficial preceding crops for potato.
~ Tomatoes and potatoes are close cousins and should not follow one another. (Don't plant tomatoes where you had potatoes last year, or visa-versa.)
~ Beans are a good choice to follow root crops, such as carrots and beets, because the are apparently unaffected by them. (Plant beans where you had "dangerous" crops last year.)
~ Squash is a good predecessor for root crops. (Plant squash where you plan to put "dangerous" crops next year.)
~ Growing potatoes one year, then squash the next, us even more beneficial for a planting of root crops planted the third year .

What! Planning three years ahead? Sure! That's what a gardening notebook is for! If you aren't able to get your fingers in the dirt (or clay) yet, why not sit down and at least plan where you'll put everything when the weather warms up enough? It's quite challenging, but loads of fun! It will probably increase your crops, too.


Leah said...

Snow? Wow! --Just kidding :)
Sounds like you had a lovely day, it always feels good to get a lot accomplished!
Thank you for the good advice on crop rotation. I keep telling myself that I need to sit down and plan on paper, (not just my head :) where I am going to plant things this year. The list of do's and don'ts is helpful, thank you for posting it Amber.

Sandra said...

That sounds like a great day Amber :) I'm glad you enjoyed it so much