Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dreaming of Spring


I've been laid up with bronchitis and laryngitis for about a week. I've been working half-days, and coming home and conking out. I had been a bit worried about getting sick, with the same bad chest cold, over and over again, but it seems that quite a few of the people at the theater have the same complaint, so I'm going to stop fretting that I've somehow ruined my immune system, and get on with my life.

We're due for a week of rain, so Robb and I took advantage of a beautiful Saturday, to do some outside work. I consolidated and moved my compost. It's quite incredible how this pile is digesting garden waste and food scraps. We cook from scratch, every day, which creates a lot of compost fodder. And yet miraculously, we don't have a huge stinkin' heap of rotting vegetables in the back yard. What we've got is a dark brown forest-smelling pile that converts veggie trimmings into food for our garden.

I bought Robb a portable table saw for Christmas, and he worked (outside, next to the lemon tree) on building a box to hold his tools. Things are a bit scattered at the moment, but we're working on getting better organized.

Robb also had his first go at cutting the grass with our push mover. Perhaps it's silly to even mention this, but when I think back to the time that he was moving so slowly, using a walker, being able to mow the lawn seems momentous. (Snow-bound blog readers, please don't hate us.)

I spent quite a bit of time preparing what's going to be a vegetable garden. I'm hoping to have two garden beds this year. We're waiting for the arborist to schedule the removal of our dying mulberry tree, which shades the entire yard. I figure there's no real point in digging up the bed under that tree, until the tree work is done. I feel that would just churn up mud.

And speaking of mud, I laid down the leaves that Robb raked up, in paths around our garden beds. I know that a lot of people use hay or straw for this purpose. I'd previously laid down fine bark mulch, but it wasn't nearly enough, and cost a fair amount of money. I'm hoping that by covering the paths with leaves, we'll reduce the prodigious amounts of mud that's being tracked into our house. Let's just hope the leaves don't become a breeding nursery for slugs. Whoo Boy! Do we have slugs! I think I dislike these even more than snails, because there's no easy (non-slimy) way to pick them up.

Although we got a lot of work done yesterday, neither of us were working at top speed. I'm still dragging from the chest cold, and we took a lot of breaks. It was really nice to be outside in January, working in the sunshine.

The books I've been reading suggest that I could plant warm-weather crops as early as March, so I'm going to start the first of my tomato seedlings this weekend. I'm probably doing this too early, but I'm going to throw caution to the wind. We're really living the Wild Life, here in East Oakland!


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you guys didn't get abducted by space aliens or anything like that!

If you guys are going to get hit with lots of rain,(and you had previously hinted that you suspect you have yard drainage problems) I suggest you get a pile of rocks ready. WHEN the rain comes down, figure out where it pools in the yard and mark it roughly with some rocks. THAT space will probably be your new garden/water garden/wet land/possible bird bathing pool.

Also I suggest you figure out a place in the yard where maybe any excess H2O can drain away into the street and down and away into a drainage pipe? At least you don't have a big leaky basement like we do sometimes!

The snow here has mostly melted away, but now its a drab brown and grey landscape.


Anonymous said...

Slugs? Try getting a few ducks. They will take care of the slug problem and you will have the fun of watching a duck try to actually swallow a slug.

Here in Washington it has been so rainy that our driveway is covered with moss. Enjoy your climate!

--Leah in Centralia, WA

2007 said...

The biggest mistake we ever made was planting tomato plants in March. No matter that it is sunny and warm, March is too early for tomato plants. Wait until the 10th of April--at least.
As for 'ducks', you might lose the slugs but you'll be left with a TON of duck poop. You decide which is easier to deal with.


MommaWriter said...

Hey, do chickens eat slugs too? Maybe you could take care of two things at once! Your garden really sounds like it's coming along! Wish I'd spent more time outside when I had the chance, but baking bread runs a close second : )

And, BTW, totally flattered that you liked my squirrel pictures. Thank you!!


Anonymous said...

I just remembered- when we moved here we also had mud paths all over the place, as we were alternately trying to paint the place, and me try to dig a garden as well! I was a very happy mess!

Try putting lots of layers of newspapers or even flattened cardboard boxes under any mulch or leaf trail. I had a large pile of cardboard that dissappeared in a few months into our also starved soil. The newspapers and cardboard will become a nice moist place, and you will get lovely earthworms by the bucketfull! Good for your soil, and those happy little diggers will "worm" their way thru your dirt and make it less compacted as well. Also good for attracting your local birds!

I used to grab a big pile of free newspapers, or grab them from the bundled up pile at a recycling center. It's FREE baby!

Check craigslist every day (I do) and you will also find for free or cheap any garden stuff as well, if this is your gardening season.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you're under the weather! Going through seed catalogs is a great way to spend a sick/rainy day.

We're in CA too and I've been haveing great fun in my veggie garden/chicken yard. Chickens do eat slugs. Silkies are a wonderful breed. They are flightless and super friendly.

You can start your tomatoes now if you have enough light inside. Set them out well after your last frost date ~or~ provide them with a hoop house for an early start.

Two great books if you're itching to get gardening year round are Square Foot Gardening and Four Season Harvest.

As it turned out it's was cheaper for me to build a hoop house rather than buy grow lights. I made a super cheap hoop house out of conduit and plastic sheeting. It's warm and cozy in there despite the HIGH winds we're having today. Lettuces, spinach, pak choi and dill are growing and my oriental poppies have happy waving buds on them.

I hope you feel better soon and happy dreams of fresh summer tomatoes!

~The Mad Hatters

Anonymous said...

I just heard you guys will get 20 inches of rain week. Hope you have a life preserver.


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Annalisa -- I don't think we get 20 inches of rain in an entire year!

mamakin said...

We've been lucky with the wood chip mulch and we've gotten it for free. I check out the ads in the Pennysaver (don't know if you get that where you are, but you probably get something similar, a little paper filled with ads for just about everything). I look for ads for tree pruning etc & have found some list free wood chips. I've also called tree companies advertising in these papers & asked if they ever have free wood chips and ask to be put on the list. They come with a truck & you need a spot for them to dump them-then you're on your own. I also check Craigs list for it. Sometimes you have to get on a waiting list, but it doesn't matter to me when I get them so I'm happy to have a delivery in December when nobody else wants it. We cover it with a tarp & wait til spring to use it.
Happy Mulching!


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