I don't have much to complain about even if the price of gasoline is killing our economy and our pocketbooks both as we speak. Just forget all that stuff for now.
I actually have a soft spot, a hobby.
I actually like gardening . I like growing stuff. It's in my blood. I have apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, and bonsai trees, you know those cute little ones in pots, I graft stuff, and we even have some grapevines. It's in the blood. I have a whole lot of natural bush to look after too. I rescue and replant trees every year from locations they would otherwise soon suffer death in, like under power lines, in ditches, and those in dire need of being moved because they have innocently chosen to sprout adjacent to buildings.
I move those babies to a place where they're safe-- to my forest, the castle, you know, the place where you can't see the forest for the trees?
I like organic vegetables too. It's food. We like growing peas, cabbage, corn and carrots. I like seeing garlic sprout as soon as the snow is gone, almost as fast as the crocuses. The chives come up all by themselves, no problem there. I even try to grow potatoes without a whole lot of luck. Don't forget tomatoes. The big Beefsteak type. They're getting legs under grow lights now and will be planted outside in the garden. Sooner or later.
As long as the weather cooperates, that is.
Summer is getting closer as we speak, but somehow it sure doesn't feel like gardening weather. I won't offer any excuses for complaining. Farmers always complain about the weather down at Timmie's even if it's only tongue-in-cheek, pragmatically or just a point of pride. A Farmer's right. The truth is, I don't like cold weather much, I like being warm much better than being chilled to the bone. Okay, let's be TOTALLY honest. Seriously. Cold is bad. There, the truth comes out.
Why? Look at the calendar. it's May 19th. There was heavy frost on the windshield a couple of days ago--and how can that possibly help grow tomatoes and potatoes ? The soil in the garden still feels icy cold. Only a few days away from planting, because May 24th is our "usual" get-out-in-the-garden-and-plant-it-come-hell-or-high-water planting date in our area.
We're concerned. We'll need ear-muffs instead of a sun hat.
Is there a heat wave on the way? We keep looking for one, but no, it's still relatively cold. Mother Nature, we need a weather miracle. Maybe we need one, but the world is supposed to end on Saturday the 21st. Did you hear about that? No matter, the garden has to be planted anyway.
As serious gardeners we always need to know stuff like the world is ending and the temperature of the soil and what kind of floods and tornadoes are working themselves into a frenzy out Manitoba way. We need to read the Farmer's Almanac and get gloves with green thumbs too. Why? We have enough agricultural experiments on the loose out in the 100' long garden to satisfy any mad biologist. We have rototillers, big and small. A Troybilt "Horse" and a Mantis, the tiny kind. Big and small, we grow it all.
We grow stuff. We grew tomatilloes that are only supposed to grow in warm places. They seeded themselves down and grew like weeds here in NW Ontario. We made salsa. And more salsa. We're trying for ground cherries next. I like pie, that's what ground cherries are for.
We mulched everything on raised beds, all 14 of them. We don't have straw, so we use hay. We use leaves. We use sawdust. The earthworms love it. The big 8" kind. We noticed mulch kills off most of the weeds--not all of them by any means, but lots of them. Mulch is good stuff for gardeners.
Our thumbs are turning greener by the minute, soon we won't even need gloves with green thumbs ---if the frost melts off of the rototiller, that is. It looks like we'll have to wait for the pie. Go figure.
A few days ago we waited with abated breath for a parcel too. It finally arrived. We ordered a special soil thermometer from those nice helpful Lee Valley folks just to test the temperature difference between mulched garden beds and garden soil that is not mulched; a.k.a. real garden dirt exposed to what little sun and frost and other assorted variations of weather we have had in the last few days. As an aside, we got an apple peeler too, for apple pie. You should see how fast that gadget peels apples, cores and slices them in a flash. Fast pie, no waiting for the weather there.
The difference in measured soil temperatures was astounding. Several readings were taken of each soil condition in comparable, close locations, and they were taken at the same depth, just to observe sound scientific principles:"Wouldn't that let the frost in?? "
- Ordinary, bare but undisturbed, clay loam uncultivated soil averaged: 14C
- Soil newly uncovered and cultivated 3 days previous, -- with no mulch averaged : 15 to 16C.
- Undisturbed garden Soil with 4" of hay mulch left on it was 10C to 11 C.
Clearly if we wanted the soil to warm up earlier, the mulch should have been pulled aside earlier. Wouldn't that let the frost in? Yup. Only a rocket scientist could figure that one out.
Regardless, five degrees (Celsius) is a LOT of heat and makes a big difference to seeds. If they're not planted in soil that is adequately warm, they sit and do not germinate. If the crows don't get them first. Seeds can even rot and disappear before your very eyes, making you think you missed those few rows. Corn is best at doing that trick because it's tricky stuff.
It's a conspiracy-weeds are best at growing at ANY temperature.
For added entertainment, and the advancement of our agricultural know-how, Lee Valley also sent an eye-opener along with that special Soil and Compost thermometer. I suspected that right away. Something to read while we await the melting of frost. It was a list. A bucket list, maybe. A list of ideal soil temperatures satisfactory for the planting of different types of vegetables, transplanted or seeded directly. A list for waiting and dreaming.
Imagine that, a bucket list that runs from Asparagus to Turnips. Twenty-seven kinds. So far, according to the temperatures I have recorded above, I can grow cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, peas, and leaf lettuce.
I can grow those-- if it warms up enough to go outside and actually plant the stuff.
Meantime, about the price of gas....and that election...where's that Farmer's Almanac anyway?
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.