After a cool start, one or two frosty nights and some very warm days, the early crops are doing well with lots of attention from the gardeners. All of the seedlings planted directly in the garden are up, and we’re planting succession crops weekly, of lettuces, greens, peas and other early veggies. The baby shoots benefited from a foliar spray of organic fish emulsion and kelp, and since last week, they’ve nearly doubled in size. Yes, the garden smells like fish, and it’s a good, earthy smell of nutrients delivered directly to the plants and soil.
Gardening requires the engagement of all of the senses right down at the macro- and micro-level of things. At the macro level, (things that can be seen with the eye,) good gardeners develop the ability to differentiate between a weed and a new shoot. They attend to and record the daily temperature and wind direction, and watch the weather report like an avid fan tracks their favorite baseball team. They wait for rain, (not too much and no hail, please.) As no gardener can depend on the rain, they irrigate. Our system can deliver nearly a thousand gallons of water in a couple of hours, directly to the plants’ roots via soaker hoses strung along the rows.
At the micro level, organic gardening requires a basic understanding of the soil-food-web, and a basic respect and nurturance of the very foundation of the food chain — the soil. Good soil is much more than dirt and is very much alive. Good soil requires a delicate balance of pH, organic matter, beneficial bacteria and micronutrients, boosted by the presence of worms who work the soil for us. To help this process, our next foliar spray in a couple of weeks will deliver a nutritious brew of compost tea.
Recipe for compost tea: Get a big barrel and fill it with clean water. Place one or two shovelfuls of organic compost in an old nylon stocking and tie it closed. Add a generous dollop of sulphured molasses, and a couple of glugs of fish and kelp emulsion. Stir twice daily. The resulting brew is laden with good bacteria and other beneficial organisms, delivering a shot of immunity. Strong plants are better able to withstand onslaught from the many undesirable insects.
Meanwhile, a big box has arrived, containing hundreds of little parts, spools of braided rope and a very cool solar operated energizer for the electric fence that will surround the big new garden, and hopefully keep out the deer, woodchucks, racoons, and rabbits, all who would very much like to share the harvest. In one intense afternoon, and with the help of many strong hands, the system is nearly ready to power up. Soon, it’ll be us vs. all creatures great and small, as we establish a clear boundary between what’s theirs and what’s ours.