25 February 2011


There are few things that are intoxicating to me in the middle of winter; but the smell of rich, dark soil, the texture of this moist earth crumbling through my fingers made fertile for seeds by earth worms, the promise of hands that have been well worn by a day's honest work in the garden, nails clipped short and needing a good scrub in the sink, these things get me every time.

Sure, you could say that the above is just a romantic way of saying that I like the smell of dirt, the feel of worm poop and trading my dry, cracked winter hands for rough, calloused gardener's hands. But, if it weren't for the promise of spring, we'd all be going crazy this time of year, holed up in our warm homes while the ground stays frozen beyond our front doors and ice sprawls like a river down our walkways. The seed companies know this. They are happy to fill our mailboxes with bright, colorful catalogs, dotted with vibrant flowers and red tomatoes pregnant with juices, flavor and seeds. They aim to make us drool, to make us spend more money on what could be in our gardens (and tummies) in a few short months.

My new plans for the garden include introducing ollahs (oy-yahs) to some of my beds to see how well they work for me in my climate and to conserve water (and time). I plan to make my own ollahs following the techniques from closer to the dirt. I plan to build another strawberry fountain with everbearing strawberries to complement the three varieties we already have established (sparkle, early glow and sure crop) and to build at least two more raised beds for herbs, lettuces and an asparagus patch.

I'll be planting a hedge of balsam firs for privacy and a windbreak and expanding the raspberry and blackberry patches. We'll extend the highbush blueberries too. I've collected a few 5 gallon buckets to make various manure teas for my gardens indoors and out. I may even experiment with urine manure tea, which is supposed to be the best all-purpose manure tea for plants, according to research conducted by Woods End Laboratories in Mt. Vernon, Maine. So much to plan for!

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