Monday, May 10, 2010

still at it (us, and the killdeer too!)

J and I were at the garden all Saturday afternoon.  We decided to explore our soil layers a little bit and decided our manure layer was stagnant and somehow involved in the poor growth of our little plants.  We did in fact cut our losses with the beets (see them at the bottom of the picture below -- this is after 30+days!) and one of my little radish plots, and so in that freed-up space and in the parts of the plots we hadn't planted yet, we dug down and mixed the layers of manure, straw, and leaves with the surface soil/compost mixture.  Our original strategy may have been better if we'd layered last fall, in preparation for planting after winter, but not really ideal for immediate planting.  That said, the leaves on our kale are starting to be big enough for eating.  Probably next week, we'll harvest them all and have a nice dinner of sauteed kale with garlic and a splash of white wine vinegar.

On Saturday, we transplanted MORE tomatoes -- a couple of Sun Gold, a couple of Bella Rosa, a couple of Pruden's Purple (heirloom) along with four okra plants (which did NOT handle the transplanting well) and something like 12 basil plants that I started from seed.  In each little hole, we added some leaf compost as well as our worm castings, as we did with our previous transplantings.  Afterwards, I came across some information that suggested worm castings are really HOT (nitrogen-wise).  We pondered then that maybe each of our transplants were suffering from a nitrogen overdose.  A little more googling led to a rejection of that hypothesis; apparently worm castings aren't any hotter than regular compost.  We both are confident that our soil is better now -- hopefully it translates to good growth in all our plantings.

We haven't had much trouble with insects, although our green bean plants are taking a bit of a hit from what is probably bean beetles; we planned to go out yesterday and lay down some row cover to protect them, but it's been raining raining raining.

On another note:  the killdeer have started on another nest!  In a different plot than last time -- now in plot 33 (if I'm remembering correctly).  We watched one of the parents (probably the papa) stand guard while the other dug out a little depression and then layered some small stones on the bottom.  Then they scampered away.  That's when we got a glimpse of what they were making.  Those two are BUSY.

Since we don't have moms in town to hang out with on Mother's Day, yesterday morning, we ventured out into the county to look for birds.  J picked the Yocona River, south of Oxford, toward Water Valley.  We discovered the Springdale Wildlife Management Area, which apparently is about 600 acres of wetlands that provides habitat for migrating water birds.  We came across an area hosting a big population of great egrets and a sizable cohort of black vultures, and got a great look at the common yellowthroat (the little black-masked guy up there, with the yellow throat), who was perched atop a fence post, singing away.  Very cute.  The morning was gray and kind of dreary, but the light was PERFECT for the vibrant blues of the indigo bunting and the blue grosbeak.  We happened upon a little patch of habitat hosting a whole bunch of indigo bunting:

It was nice to get out of Oxford to commune with nature a little -- I haven't done that in a long time -- and it was especially nice to become more familiar with our county's natural places.  Haven't done much of that at all.

 Last week, J and I had a memory clash when we were trying to figure out how long it had been since we'd done our first planting.  Me saying that it had been a long time, and our plants should be bigger by now.  Him saying that it wasn't as long as I'd was guessing (always the optimist he is).  Our little blog came in very handy to settle the disagreement -- all that just to acknowledge that this post is pretty journal-y... thanks for hanging in there!

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