Friday, April 2, 2010

Spinach, Garlic, and Some Double Digging

   The temperature is hovering around 80F this afternoon. Yesterday it was the same, but with some really summer-like sun rays. I'm afraid that my overwintered spinach is going to bolt the first week of April. I've hosed it down the last two days so that the breezes would keep the temperatures down. Plus, it is DRY here. I actually *needed* to water the lettuce sprouts so that they didn't shrivel. We'll have to see how the spinach pulls through. I ate a leaf this morning and it was spit-it-out-look-around-for-something-else-to-shove-in-to-get-rid-of-that-taste bitter. Not all of the plants are bitter, though.

   There was one raised bed in my (I might just start calling it an allotment because it's not my land) garden that I had not attacked with a pulaski yet. The ground inside the "raised bed" was actually concave. I hacked at it and removed all the quack grass rhizomes and then it was *really* concave. It needs some serious soil therapy. I know that I could have tried the lasagna method and laid down layers and layers of wet newspaper and then piled on lots of organic matter (leaves, manure, grass clippings, etc.) but I really just don't think the quack grass will die, even with 3 feet of new soil on top of it. That stuff is evil. EVIL. I'm not experienced in the lasagna method, but it sounds REALLY GOOD. No digging. However, I used the double-dig-lasagna mash-up method. I busy-beed it all over the yard collecting leaves, dried grass, and chicken and llama manure. I dug about 15 inches deep into the "raised" bed area and then put in a layer of manure, covered that with a leaf/dirt mix, then topped it off with 3 inches of original soil. I did this in 3 of my beds. It took about an hour. (HAHAHAHA!) It took the past 3 days. My back is killing me. I've seriously lost 2 pounds since Monday. I say "half-assed" because I didn't do a bunch of reading and research before I did this, I just dove in. This does not mean that I skimped on the actual labor part.

   I ordered some cover crops from Johnny's Seeds for a green manure project. More on that part of the story later.

   After I stabbed my foot with the garden fork (without realizing it - really) there were several minutes of panic during which I decided I was going to lose my foot because my veins are spontaneously erupting. I came inside, R.I.C.E.d it, and reasoned that I must have knocked my foot with a sharp object. Not healthy, this obsessive mode of spring gardening. After about an hour, I was able to head back out and finish the double-dug mash up.

   I hope this is the year I get to eat a spinach salad (not just graze on preciously short-lived plants).  And I hope that soon, when I close my eyes, I no longer have visions of stringy white quack grass rhizomes dancing before my eyes.

fall planted garlic progress

pile of quack grass rhizomes drying (and dying!) in the sun

what's left of the compost-pile-that-never-got-hot after I buried a bunch of it under the garden beds

the new raised bed after I raised it with lots of organic matter

crispy brown garden


Genie of the Shell said...

Yay, garlic! I planted some in the fall too and then forgot about it. My mom came over and said, "Oh, you have a bed of tulips!" and I looked down and it was not tulips but garlic springing up beside my rose bushes. Haha!

I started some spinach indoors this spring and set it outside before the heat wave. I think I may have killed it. :( But I have more seeds.

There are so many different ways to dig and compost, I just don't know what to do. But I did learn last year to wear heavy duty shoes when I'm using the spade or fork. :) Hope your foot is OK!

Dan said...

It has been really dry here as well. This week is rainy so I am happy! The spinach is still looking good, given a pull back in the heat they should not bolt for a while.

Molly Crawford Reidy said...

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Dan. We just ate a big ol' spinach salad yesterday. It's been wonderfully wet and cool, perfect for spinach. This is my first real spinach success story.

Genie, your garlic in the flower beds is perfect! Garlic and Roses. Sounds like a cafe.

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