Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hog Wire and Asparagus

January 23, 2008
Beautiful. Today there was a thick fog that burned off into blue skies by mid-morning; birds were singing; temperatures rose into the 50's-60's. It felt like spring. Funny--it was sleeting last week at this time. Snow. And today I was peeling off layers like an onion getting smaller. Snow last week, t-shirt today. I love Georgia. Will says that's what he loves about the South--winter just can't get a firm grip on things. No solid freeze, no perpetual night. The South is just too slippery when it comes to weather. So it's cold. And then it's not. And we like it that way.

Wednesday. One of my work-traders was out with me and we paused early on to watch the sun steam the dew off the top of the tool shed. Ahhhhh. Then we got to the business of sifting. Sifting what? Dirt. Why would a person want to sift dirt? To get really fine particles. Because really fine particles are what you need when you mix soil to make a blocking blend. Big particles cause your blocks to fall apart. Structural integrity compromise. So we sift. Tiny bits of sand, soil, compost, peat, and wormcastings are what we want and what we get. I can hardly believe it, but soil blocking is coming up soon. Just last week we set our first 2008 planting date: cabbages, cauliflower--early February. That's soon. And that means we make soil mix.

But that doesn't take us all day today. Today we accomplish a myriad of small farm tasks and for once, one of them actually took less time than I thought it would. That task would be finishing digging out holes for burying our irrigation spigots. Kevin did most of the work months ago and the task had simply lagged in the interim. Not urgent enough to address immediately meant not addressed at all. Today, I found one of the pipes had busted in the freeze, so not urgent became urgent and we went and got our shovels. And shoot if it didn't go so fast I wondered why it had taken so long for me to get around to it. C'est la vie. I'm just happy something finally took less time than I imagined.

On the flip side of that, one task that I thought would take half an hour took an hour to do half. Yep. It's winter, and winter means prime time to do anything that requires reclaimation. This particular task found us on the farm margin, digging hog fencing out of the privet and thorns and clay to reclaim it as trellising material. The previous owner had set up a (dog? hog? goat?) pen that had fallen into disuse. So we decided to reuse it. Future home of tomatoes or beans or cucumbers, peas or melons or flower vines. I thought it would only take a little while to pull it apart. It was 11:30am and I thought, hey, let's do this easy bit of work and then we'll take lunch. What I didn't bargain on was having to dig out the bottoms. 6 inches deep, 8 inches deep, a foot. Roots, rocks, and clay. Sheeze louise. We swung maddoxes and dug with our hands, pulled and levered and hauled at it. An hour in, we had only salvaged 3 of the 6 panels and decided lunch could no longer wait. Later in the afternoon, we came back and finished the job with another hour of labor. Half an hour? More like 2 hours. Often the case.

Which leaves us with asparagus. Ah, asparagus. Delightful perennial. Last year we put in a row about 70' long. At this time of year, the ferny tops are all dead, so we cut them back, top dressed the row with horse manure, mulched over them again, and stood back, admiring our work. If only annual crops were so time non-intensive. No wonder people love perennials.

Let's see--to wrap it up, it's Wednesday. Family dinner potluck night. My work-trader stayed on and we picked a big salad from the garden. He put it together with some mixers we picked last week--claytonia, endive, frilly mustards--and made a roasted garlic dressing---ummmm. I made an Indonesian squash and greens soup (one of Chris's favorite Moosewood recipes) with a pumpkin we salvaged from a leaf bag--we were spreading leaves and I upended this bag and a pumpkin rolled out! In perfect condition! It must have been in there since October. Someone raked their yard and tossed their perfect pumpkin on top for disposal because Halloween was over and pumpkins are decorations, not food. Silly American. So we decided to keep it and eat it. It came out fantastic. Two thumbs up. And that was just half the fruit! Chris made pumpkin biscuits and gravy and there's even still some left. Maybe I'll make pumpkin bread later this week. God bless pumpkins. We're gonna grow some this year.

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