Saturday, March 25, 2017

ancient wheat

that the winter wheat did not overwinter has already been well established and that will become a potato bed in the next month or so...however i did not what to have a grainless season and i happened to have some emmer and dwarf syrian wheat seed left and it happens to be very early spring...prime wheat planting time ( it is a cool weather crop )...the emmer wheat has a very tough husk ( top photo ) and i spent about half an hour threshing out some grain to plant...emmer is very old wheat...domesticated between nine and ten thousand years ago at the beginnings of the neolithic revolution...and there is evidence of its wild ancestor being gathered and eaten up to seventeen thousand years ago ( even a cursory review of archaeological evidence will put the lie tot he whole "paleo diet" nonsense...gluten has been with us a long time and there are crackbrained diets everywhere...not so much what you eat [within reason] as how much )...i wonder how many generations of this wheat this will mark...uncounted...so i prepared some containers...broadcast the seed...and raked it under by hand to a depth of about a quarter inch...it will surface germinate but i wanted to keep the birds guessing...give it a week or two and we will check on the progress and the continuation of ancient strains of dna.

almost normal II

a quick post to say that something like fourteen and a half hours after that 84F reading yesterday evening it is 40 degrees ( or better ) cooler and raining ( admittedly it is very early spring here however a 43 degree drop in less than a day is not an everyday occurrence )...and there is a difference of about .15" of rain measured on the east side of the yard as compared to the west...those gauges are less than 100 feet apart ( i imagine i should make a measurement, no? )...if things are this complex in my back yard i have to wonder whether we understand much about the environment...oversimplified specifics may be within our grasp...one wonders about grasping all the connections between those specifics.

Friday, March 24, 2017

almost normal

the irises are up out back...crocuses are up...and so is the temperature...a bit unseasonal for the end of march...a portent? last time it was this warm in march we had a summer long drought...one hopes fro something different this time ( and, likely, will get it )...the egyptian walking onions ( fourth photo ) and the garlic ( fifth ) are all happy which is good...i avoided murderous over mulching this past winter and it seems to have helped...scouting out the ramp bed i found there was still only one brave plant broken through the soil ( sixth)...impatiently i dug around a bit and found that it will nor be alone for much longer...the plant in the seventh photo was just fractions of an inch from breaking the soil surface...on a down note, except for a few stragglers the winter wheat bed seems dead...the growth of last autumn did not get enough snow this winter to insulate it from the cold and it seems to have expired...the good news? there's now a bed open for spuds of all sorts...we will get something in there next month...finally the last photo was something i mistook for buttercrunch lettuce or curly kale...however closer examination shows me that the rhubarb has overwintered and has started afresh for the new season...we have new growth in a new season...we expect losses...we will adapt and persevere...something the species may need to ponder soon enough

Sunday, March 19, 2017

first day of a new season

last year i waited until the twenty-eighth of march to unmulch the asparagus in the community garden and a very pale spear had already popped up ( first photo )...i didn't want to repeat that this year and so i went out a bit earlier to open up...i found no spears...which is not a surprise...asparagus isn't the strongest plant when it comes to pushing up through the soil...so i dug down into the compost i mulched it with last autumn and formed a sport of trench that will help the plants find the light of day...we will be back-filling that the the heaped compost and more since the plants are heavy feeders...the early spring weekly ( or more ) visits to the garden to check progress will be starting...the garlic ( fifth through seventh photos ) came through the winter looking robust and will be happy until it finishes in june sometime...while i was out there i did the first dig on the half of my bed i plant to plant in spuds in a few weeks time ( early april )...unsurprisingly i found jerusalem artichokes ( ninth photo ) which i replanted on the proper side of the bed...more distressingly i found some already greening queen anne's lace ( tenth and eleventh ) some with tap roots from nineteen to twenty-five inches deep ( twelfth through fourteenth )...a profoundly stubborn ( almost as relentless as jerusalem artichokes...but not quite ) perennial member of the carrot family, it was an issue in the old garden and i am afraid it migrated when we brought soil from the old to the new...it means we will need to be vigilant in the other beds and as early as possible since it is a very hardy plant...we are started...more on what's happening as i find out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

lake effect shift

in february the "offical" high was between 51 and 69 degrees fahrenheit for fifteen days of the month ( it was warmer in my back yard most of those days )...six days before spring and winter has decided to make a return...even if briefly...this i snot an organized blizzard...it is lake effect snow...when you live at the south end of the inland sea and the temperature and the wind are in the proper relationship the air picks up moisture from the lake and deposits it in waves as snow...it is intermittent...but i can be very heavy in those "snow events"...usually it migrates from west ( it was snowing north of chicago this morning ) to east into michigan...buffalo new york has much the same issue with snow from lake erie only, seemingly, much more of it...the back yard is under snow again...too late for the winter wheat i am afraid...it is all part of a slow change in the climate here...one hopes it does not become more precipitous...one suspects it will...there is mischief afoot and the climate won't stand for it much longer.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

blues

i usually plat the first round of spuds early in april...however, because of frost, i usually don't put pout chitted spuds that early...these three may not last another three weeks and even if they did frost might do them in...so i went out and got some compost and mixed it with some potting soil i had lying around and plugged them in under the lights...they have room to grow...and will definitely finish their season outside...space is at a premium so i would have had to containerize potatoes anyway...these just got an early start..should be done by june...then more will go in to be done in september...we will be doing cyclical spuds.

seasonal change, loss, and urgency

the unnaturally ( or, perhaps, the "new" natural ) warm temperatures of february have turned sharply colder...and while the onions and garlic are unfazed ( second and third photos ) the single ramp...so far( fourth)...and the rest of the bed seem stalled...i am fearful that the winter wheat has failed to overwinter successfully...it needs three to four inches of snow to act as insulation against even colder ambient temperatures..we got the cold temperatures but not the snow and...with the exception of a few stragglers ( sixth ) i am afraid the bed has died..i am thinking of a bed of spuds actually...while the yard is having its issues, the basement season is moving along...there is slow but good growth in yacon ( seventh) and the spuds that chitted in the pantry are robust ( eighth)..the pantry onions have it easier than their outdoor relatives and are doing fine...there are signs of more necessary planting down there however..i will be procuring some compost later today and putting these blue spuds in a large container that can finish outdoors after an indoor start...they won't wait much longer.