Monday, April 30, 2012

April Showers

A bracken fern unfurls

Wow!  If April showers really do bring May flowers, then I think May day tomorrow is going to bring enough flowers to make a parade float!  The rain is dumping buckets (literally, like gallons) on us up here in the Pacific Northwest.

Taken with my cell phone.  Here's the mini greenhouse.  I think next year I will need to use pvc pipe bent in arcs to help rainwater drain off.
This weekend I made a mini greenhouse out of a section of my fence, some tomato cages, some row covers and some white gardening plastic.  My peppers and tomatoes were itching to get their roots into some real soil, and that soil's pretty soggy at this time of year.  I've helped several gallons of water to drain off of that greenhouse today.

In Hawai'i, May 1 is Lei Day.  You give a lei to someone you care about, but there aren't many flowers to make leis with around here.  Instead, to celebrate the fact that it's May Day tomorrow, I worked outside planting flowers and veggies, in spite of the rain!  I planted all of my hollyhock starts, along with some more peas along the garden fence near our house.  If they survive, it'll be beautiful this summer, with holly hocks and peas making a natural border around our yard.

Seed pods of a willow tree.. I think that's what this part is anyway.
I made my way down to the lower gardens, which are very swampy, and tried to destroy the rat tunnels that rats have created near our chicken coop,  Then I weeded around all the plants we've already got in.  I'm so glad we have everything planted in hills, because there were tiny ponds between every hill!

This year, I'm trying to mulch more for weed control, but I'm having a hard time finding enough mulch.  In the meanwhile, I'm reading up on natural ways to control weeds in Charles Walters' book, "Weeds without Poisons."  He started an organization called Acres USA that educates farmers on growing without chemical pesticides and fertilizers.  His premise is that every weed has something to tell us about our soil.

He talks about how there are hundreds of thousands of weed seeds in every square foot of our soil at any given time, but only a few germinate each ear.  This is because each seed, within about 24 hours of sprouting, will send off hormones into the soil called auxins, which tell other seeds to remain dormant.  If we can disturb the sprouts of seeds soon after germination, we can cut our weeding time dramatically!  The auxins will remain in the soil for 6-8 weeks, asking the other seeds to remain dormant.  Wow!

A little wet salmonberry blossom.  I see lots of green baby salmonberries forming now!
So this evening, in the pouring rain I went and roughed up all the baby weed sprouts I could in the garden tonight.  Then, I planted some seed potatoes I had bought to replace ones the chickens seem to have found.  When I was planting them, however, I found many potatoes the chickens had not.  Hooray.

We went to check on our broody hen earlier, and tried candling her eggs.  To do this, you shine a flashlight at the side of the egg in a dark area of the chicken coop.  Each of her eggs has a large air pocket inside and a very dark other section, which I think must be the developing chick... I hope.  I almost am motivated to go back out there, now that it's pitch black outside to see if I'll be able to see more.  I saw a video online where you could see the little embryo moving around!

Normally, what I'm writing here is more coherent, but I think today, my writing can match more how life is in this wet season of spring...frenzied, disjointed, chaotic, but above all, joyful.  There is newness and adventure in every moment of our days.


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