The Great Potato Planting of ’21 Leave a comment

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood
And yesterday I did.
We aim for St. Pat’s Day as Potato Planting day. . . but every day around here is Pat’s day and today most especially as it is Herself’s BIRTHDAY !!! And since this is a journal entry about the garden this photo of the Eggplant Whisperer is most appropriate to celebrate her new found gardening prowess…
Well on their way to a parmesaned casserole near her soon. Meanwhile in the studio nursery, we had around 50 lbs of seed potatoes chitting out for the last week. They arrived from The Maine Potato Lady the week before, and every available square inch of the studio was lined with boxes and dedicated lamps to aid in their preparation for planting. Then out to the wheelbarrow they came . . .
Box the First.
Raking back Ruth
Next step was to rake back the matte of hay which had been snug and cozy under a heavy blanket of snow in the Ruth Stout Bed all winter. Exposing the rich organic matter underneath I am beginning to realize the work that our soil bound friends have been doing. . . or is that chewing . . . for the last few years. All that organic matter is building a substrate of nutrient rich medium for the veg and makes for easy planting.
Rake it back.
Toss on the spuds
Round the corner and up the back leg.
Then cover ’em back up with fresh hay.
And that’s job done. Turning around you can get a peak of the RS annex which was added last fall.
The ground underneath that section, which only 5 months ago was the grass you see to the left in this pic, is still in transition. Covered with cardboard, a few inches of mulched leaves, and then a foot of loose hay. . .the grasses and weeds beneath are a muddy slick and, judging by past experience, will be for some time. So, the plan is for straw bales to provide some growing area this season and then the decomposing bales can be strewn in the fall to add another layer of goodness. By next year this section should be plantable. The squash tower in the distance straddles those bales and two extra ones on the other side. Last year this method proved successful so we’ll try again. The skinnier Pea Tower to the left got a boost of some compost added to the two rows on either side. Something for the Peas to ease into before having to contend with the hay. Today’s rain is sealing the deal and gives the gardeners a chance to rest up. So here’s to the wonders of the burgeoning Spring. . . And celebrating the most wonderful Pat Lackey. . .
Happy Birthday My Love,

Postcards from the Ledge -2

The apprentice patiently awaits our next delivery…

I’m a bit behind.
Been putting out insurance fires,
medication issues,
juggling tax documents,
cooking perishables,
and monitoring the stock market.

No, are you kidding
I don’t know squat about the stock market
but apparently I like to watch disasters in the making
or the ticking
I actually gave over dozens of minutes of my precious life
to watching those numbers bounce around in free fall this week.

Mesmerizing, I was interested to learn about the internal brake thing
which automatically stops trading. That stopped my heart when it happened in real time.
And, because we have a tiny little bit of our savings tied up in those numbers some how…

I quickly took the advice of experts…
and snapped right on out of that window.

And went outside.
The distractions and emergency shut downs that have shaken our worlds
have also put me a bit behind in the gardening department.

I keep a running journal to help me remember what to plant and when.
Last year I dug deep, as it were, and invested, with Kory’s help, in building new beds and starting my Ruth Stout Garden, and now I have a journal full of useful information to be going on with.

As we saw in the first ledge post, there was good news to report about the soil under all that hay. Some pics from last season show how I used boxes filled with compost to provide some fertile growing medium while the ground beneath, which had been lawn, was slowly being converted, by the creatures within, to something more conducive to garden ready soil.

Made me happy in this lock downed moment to see all that green again…

At the end of the season we raked all of the remaining organic matter flatish, and made a footpath of wood chips then covered it all with a fresh foot or so of hay.

Where we had compost, roughly chopped up plant material and cardboard…the soil is now beautifully decomposed. There was one area in the back where I only had hay on top of last year’s soil and that is still anaerobic, sticky mud. We’ll see if the potatoes object because I planted some of them in that muck.

Yesterday Herself and Finn and myself enjoyed the ridiculously hot weather…76 degrees…and planted the Greens Bed.

This is what remained from the winter under cover. Beets in the back are probably not going to form but I’ll give them another week. Carrots are in great shape. Spinach which I’ve been enjoying all winter looks better after a heavy cleaning but I’ve got new seeds starting in other beds so this batch, which is very leggy, may be retired.

With 6 typed of lettuce seeds planted and some radishes as well, the whole thing got a blanket thrown over it.

Because…squirrels.

They are just fine as painting models… but seem to be unsatisfied with the sunflower seeds I have been providing them all winter. They found the pea seeds which we had planted on St. Pat’s day and ripped that bed up. So…I threw more seeds in and put up the dreaded tunnel.

Hopefully they will get the message.

In October I noticed they were spending some time in the herb bed. I thought it was to bury nuts but no, they were eating the Chard. Since I had planted that for winter harvest I decided to cover it over. The plants didn’t produce much so I lifted the fleece and let the sun rain down.

The squirrels rejoiced and this is what is left. Eh, it’s time to start new plants anyway.

In that same bed, on the farside, is a magnificent crop of Cress.

It grew uncovered all through our mild winter-that-wasn’t and now it’s feisty and fiery flavor of pepper and spice is a brilliant addition to every dish. Somewhere I read it is one of the most densely vitamin and mineral rich plants. Double the benefits. This is a land cress variety which likes shade. It loves hanging out behind the grape arbor. I’ve got extra seeds if anyone wants to try some.

And so far, the squirrels don’t seem to have cottoned on to this delicacy.

Later on today we will start another flat of the seeds I need to catch up on and some of the hot weather lovers like tomatoes and peppers.

But as for my day job.

Making Art…

I guess it is appropriate to pay homage to some of my more squirrely Muses…

Stay frosty out there everyone…and be kind.

Squirreled Away – 2016

Last year it was the Cardinal,
His Holiness Wolsey
the basher of windows.

This winter,
it was Sir Squirrel,
the chomper of walnuts.

He who kept me company,
through the snowy storms,
perched on the air-conditioning unit,
just outside my easel window,
flaunting his propitious,
hoarding prowess,
and watching.

We watched each other actually.
Watched out for each other may be more accurate.

When we got that Nor’easter,
which dumped 4 feet of fresh snow,
on the already whitened studio yard,
it took me three days to dig out a path
for Finnegan to get to her privy.

I noticed that Sir Sq. had been a no show
and made a wee annex to Finn’s run
from the arbor vitae to his window perch.

The mere work of a teaspoon,
but it sufficed for him to re-surface
and check back in
to make sure I was ok,
and able to lift those tiny brushes
after all that shoveling.

Sitting there,
sporting new pairs
of both snow shoes
and sunglasses,
and chewing
on a particularly prodigious nut,
he must have noticed
I was looking ever so slightly famished, because,
after devouring a full three quarters thereof,
he reached out to offer me a nibble…

See,
that’s what I’m talking about…

it takes a village.

AND…

A Little Night Knitting – 2018

On those long winter nights
alone on an island
pining for her captain

the rhythmic click click clicking
of the long metal needles is heard

as they catch the moon beams
dancing over waves

that somewhere
oceans away

have lapped along the starboard side
of a weathered wooden ship.

As she knits
and purls
and knits
and purls

the tips of those needles
wave a tiny patter of light

a private message
in a language of their own
sweet and sacred semaphore.


Let the garden begin !!!

THANK YOU HOMER…

our CSA pals came to the rescue to help us haul 50 bales of hay to the studio today.

Shout out to Sunnyside Farm…here’s a link to their blog and website.

They are about 12 minutes from us and besides being fascinating humans, Dru, Homer and Claire, on their Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) farm, harvest acres of veggies, chickens, turkeys, beef, pork and gorgeous flowers. I’m sure that’s not the complete list.

We can’t live without their eggs and are thrilled that they have convinced the girls to keep laying throughout this winter ! They have local farm pick up once a week and drive to markets in Hershey and Maryland on a regular basis. Check them out to support your local farmers.

Today they supported us.

You’ll remember reading on this blog recently of the Ruth Stout garden I’m going to establish this year.  I’ll be adding regular updates to share the process but today is the beginning.

I’ve got three flats of leek and onion seedlings well on their way. They are soaking up the sunshine in the studio patron lounge and will soon be joined by the cold weather startups like beets and chard and carrots when the annual Valentine’s Day studio sowing takes place.

This hay wants to be on the ground yesterday, so I’ll get to enjoy the coming warmup as I toss these bales around.

Which makes me think of …

The Hay Whisperer

Stay tuned and stay frosty out there.