Friday, January 21, 2011

The Difference Sunshine Can Make

When I went to start the fire this morning I realized I'd forgotten to empty the ash bin and so I was forced to venture out to scatter our wood ash on a couple of the raised veggie beds that had high acidity due to the peat that I added last fall. It's hard to believe there are raised beds under that snow!

This is the first year I've used ash in the garden. I'll have to start collecting it somewhere (dry) to use after the thaw once I can take more PH readings around the yard. I worry I might use it too liberally and over-alkalinize (not a real word!) my soil.

The pre-sunrise air this morning was a frigid 4ยบ and staring out into the yard from the porch I couldn't help but feel dread in the pit of my stomach at the chill cold that I was about to venture into. The grey cast over everything in site, and the dull, stale snow seemed to be more bleak than usual as I glared out at it.

As the sun peaked over the hill however, the world bloomed into color and the stale snow reflected a sort of warmth across the orchard. I had to stop and photograph the sun hitting various plants, including this evil, evil burdock which lies in wait near the edge of the summer sheep pasture. Don't worry, I will destroy it once it breaks dormancy.

The ducks were particularly wimpy this morning, refusing to leave their net-covered run after I let them out of their coop. Our ducks are finally in their new feathers, and I can no longer tell the difference between them at all without approaching them. Fleur still lets me get close enough to pet her, and Neville is still the most paranoid. By process of elimination I can figure out who's who in the rest of the flock.

Quite the opposite are the sheep. I wish I'd had my camera with me last night when I went to put them in for the night. Gertrude and the ram were standing under cover, and Ingrid was picking over the hay remnants out in the snow, completely blanketed in a thick crust of icy white. It was adorable.

I managed to run some errands today. I ran to the store to get what I need to complete my craft swap with my mother at the end of this month. I also picked up some cedar boards for seed starting trays as inspired by Chiot's Run's photos of trays she purchased on Etsy. My last stop was to the Salem-South Lyon District Library to finally get my library card. I visited Plymouth District Library earlier in the week only to be thwarted by a sneaky township line.

From Salem, I picked up four books. "The Perfect Pumpkin" by Gail Damerow, "Chicken Coops" by Judy Pangman, "Raised-Bed Vegetable Gardening Made Simple" by Raymond Nones, and "The Good Woodcutter's Guide" by Dave Johnson. I figure these will keep me busy for a little while at least. I can't wait to get to Plymouth's library, now that I have my card, to borrow their book on maple sugaring, but that is a trip for another day.

(Also, did you know that radishes interplanted with cucurbitae and allowed to bolt will deter cucumber beetles??? I'm so excited!)

Does anybody out there use their own wood ash in the garden? Do you use it to temper acid soil, or to supply trace minerals?


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