Friday, May 9, 2014


I started seeds WAY late this year.  For various reasons, I wasn't sure that I'd have the time to dig in new garden beds this spring, and then...  well.  Then I knew I would.  But by then, the optimal seed starting time had passed.  And I might have procrastinated another week.... waited until I was REALLY itching to garden.  And so on Tuesday, I started seeds!

Cabbage seeds.  Parsley seeds.  Calendula seeds.  Summer squash seeds.  Zuccini seeds.

Less a planned composition than the happenstance of left overs combined with gifts from a friend.

I've others I will direct-seed in the ground...  into those beds I still need to make.... Parsnips, peas, green beans (because why not?  I have a bazillion of them!)

And another friend has promised many many eggplant starts from her own over abundance, and tomatoes to join the basil on the upstairs porch.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Making Dirt : Compost

I'm starting at the ground, literally, with this homesteading endeavor.  Making dirt.  Compost is the lifeblood of a garden.  That and manure, which I will be picking up a load of today, and one year soon I'll have the livestock to produce it ourselves.  

I remember, growing up in a Civil War era farmhouse in Maine with a giant garden out back, we had an equally giant compost pile out back, and in the later years we were there (the ones I remember most clearly) I don't believe we ever bought soil amendments.  And now, when I'm looking at a quarter inch of soil over a hillside of glacial silt and clay...  I long for that giant fertile pile of rich dark loam.  But this is how it starts: one step at a time, one pail of scraps, one armful of leaves.  Directing the decomposition...

The current compost heap...  I hope to be able to harvest a good deal of dirt out of it before the end of the summer.  My way of making dirt is a bit of an improvisation.  I pay very little (if any) attention to the proper balance of green and brown composting material.  Instead, I empty the pail of collected kitchen scraps, occasionally throw on some dried leaves or a bucket of sawdust, add congealed chicken's blood when I have it after a slaughter (cross my fingers no wild predators stalk the compost for chicken's blood) ...  and call it good.  It all eventually decomposes.

But since I was making a new pile, I figured I might as well be a little conscientious about it:

I laid down cardboard and newspaper to help block the grass and fireweed and rosebushes from simply growing through it.  I plan, very soon, to make a container for it, log cabin-style, of stacked fallen trees, so the pile can more easily grow up than out. 

And I bedded it down with a wheelbarrow of leaves from the forest driveway, before I ever tossed the first pail of kitchen scraps.  One day it will be dirt :)