Sunday, March 2, 2008
Nightcrawlers and Spinach
when they are happily hanging out in the garden together mere days after this ground was covered with snow. It was in the 70s today (of course while I was driving the bus!), and the frost thawed out of the deep ground in a lot of areas.
It's interesting to see the patterns...in the highly trafficked--and compacted--and less "amended" (lime, mulch, manure, etc.) areas, no worms, and the ground is still frozen underneath, slurry on top. In the garden, the soil is thawed and somewhat solid and alive with plants and critters.
The spinach deserves comment, too--in fact, that's what I had ventured over to look at by headlamp after work tonight. With the frequent protective blankets of snow this winter, it came through in great shape, and should be growing rapidly with more frequent warm afternoons. The trick will be keeping the rabbits at bay, so that we humans get to enjoy some salad. It's hard to think of snow as a warm blanket, but in fact it buffers the arctic air of the coldest nights, and prevents the leaves from drying out when the humidity is low. The white edges on the leaves are bleached, dried-out dead areas from some very cold nights early on, before the snow. The bronze areas are more recent freeze damage, though not serious.
The reddish leaves in the photo are henbit, a "winter annual" weed that germinates in late fall and winter, and overwinters to cover entire fields in bright lavender flowers in early spring. I generally tolerate quite a bit of it...it doesn't compete unduly for the plants for resources (water, nutrients, light) in most cases, and can act as a "living mulch". It has an insignificant root system that doesn't clog the tools I use to prepare seed beds, as do some types of root systems. When I do pull it, it makes a nice snack for the sheep in early spring when greens are highly prized rare treats. I don't remember if bees like it or not...I was not so attuned to the welfare of the bees before the hives came to the farm last summer. Now I find myself thinking whether they care for any particular plant I plant or weed I pull. How can I maximize forage for them, while meeting the needs of other creatures and concerns? How nice that they like flowers--an excuse to grow flowers without feeling frivolous!
The bees were out of their hives today, in considerable numbers. Yesterday, we cleaned up the area infront of the garage where we had been sawing firewood all winter...today, dozens of bees were flocking to the remnants of damp sawdust. Evidently they were attracted to some faint remaining bit of sap, flowers being few and far between at the moment. I feel happy whenever I see these amazing insects hard at work.
P.S. Rinse your veggies, ok? No telling what goes on at night out there, especially in a natural/"organic" garden!
Posted by Natalya at 1:40 AM