In the midst of this bone dry winter we've been having (a statement that should anger the weather gods to the point that we'll get dumped on in the next few days), I decided to run out and test the soil and then work it to bring in more toward a middle ground pH than one side or the other. (You darned near have to be a PhD to understand the little soil tester machine. Hey, my brother is a PhD, I should call him.)
To start, both gardens were in the green on the scale, yet both were leaning toward the alkaline side of the scale. (Al Kaline was a great right fielder. You just can't grow tomatoes in him. Society frowns ...)
So, seeing that I had a few lonely dollars in my wallet, I headed off to O'Toole's and picked up some supplies. (See where a little money and boredom can drive you?)
I had about 18 different opinions on what I should do with raising (ever so slightly) the acidity of the soil. I decided to try some Espoma Soil Acidifier. What does it do? I dunno, but it is Organic, so it's got to be okay.
(I love that Organic argument: Hey, look, here on the ground! Arsenic! That's Organic, isn't it, so it's gotta be good for you? Yeah, let's eat some!)
Actually, the product puts a little more Sulphur in the soil, so, after application, I smelled like a recent escapee of Hell. Actually, not Hell. Maybe Purgatory, as there was but a small scent of Brimstone upon me or my rather tattered soul. (Although the dogs wouldn't come near me.)
I also put down some Espoma Garden Tone, continuing the fertilization process begun last fall.
We're supposed to get some rain/snow tonight, then more this weekend, so the hope is, that it will seep into the soil and I can dig it in next week. (That is the hope. We'll see. The other hope is that I don't drive a pitchfork through my foot while turning the garden. We'll see. I always want to have something special for Becky to look forward to when she comes home from work.)
I was also told (Opinions 7, 9, 14 and 18) that putting down a layer of Peat Moss, or, as this is called, "Tourbe des Sphaigne," oooh, fancy, will also boost the acidity of the soil slightly, as will the addition of some Cow and Compost come March.
Then, again, as my friend Leo at the Garden Center told me, "Aw, just put some fresh dirt down there and you should be fine." Which is probably true, but nowhere near as fun, and leaving me with $$ that I would likely spend in some mindless, prurient pursuit.
I did this, once, in a novel, thoroughly pissing off my mother, so, perhaps that is why I truly smell, every so slightly, of brimstone. Maybe it had nothing to do with the Soil Acidifier at all.
As for Mr. Bitterman and Furious George --
The boys spent the day at Mr. Bitterman's Alma Mater, Colorado State University, Universitatum E Pluribus Unum, where he was honored with a PhT, Doctor of Thinkology. At least, that's what they told me. It might just be a story, but I can hardly blame them. If I had the chance, I'd run up to Ft. Collins and hit New Belgium Brewery for an afternoon. The train tracks run right behind the house, I might haul out the Motorized Gandy Dancer and run up there to join them.
'Til Next Time!
Just when we thought January was going to be as dry as December, which was as dry as November, which was as dry as October, we finally got some moisture around here. The compost and the fertilizer should work themselves nicely into Nick, the upper garden.
It's very pretty and incredibly beneficial, as we're well below the necessary snow pack totals for the season. The mountains are getting it as well, which is great, unless you're trying to drive I-70 in any one of 85 different directions, all depending on the quality of your tires.
(All morning long, I've been listening to weather folks saying, "just as I predicted," which is my very favorite weather folks phrase, even above and beyond, "RUN FOR THE HILLS! THE DAM HAS BUSTED!" when there aren't really any dams around here. A few damns, but no dams. Well, there's that one, The South Fork Dam, just up the road, but it's part of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club, which is a private club owned and run by 1% Titans of Industry, Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie and the like, but they have assured us that they are always maintaining the damn dam and the Little Conemaugh will not sweep away our garden gnomes, or gardens, or homes, or lives. And if you can't believe the people with all the money, who can you believe?)
The biggest worry, of course, are low water levels, which can lead to very a bad wild fire season and tight water restrictions. I'm already making plans to plan and plant for maximum water savings, and to avoid as much waste as possible. If we're growing it, it has to be used.
With that in mind, I may put off my purchase and build of a Stalin Bust sprinkler. First, I can't imagine that it would be very efficient. But then, as I was calling to order, a shadowy government agency broke in to let me know that I would be of particular interest to them if I went through with the purchase. I let it go and decided to go for the four top of Marx and Lenin. The government let me get it because I told them it was Groucho and John, not Karl and Vladimir. I think I might have been talking to one of the Trump boys, as they seemed very happy when I told them that my new "Donald" water feature had just arrived. As soon as the snow melts, I'll hook it up and try it out. It should give me an incredible volume of spew.
Some are telling me it's rude, but somehow, I think it's a good likeness.
Til next time!
Given that it was a nice day in mid-January, I figured it was time to turn some soil and work some compost into the ground in preparation for this season's planting. I dug, I turned, I pulled out any number of weeds (many of them, apparently, strawberries from six years ago -- damned things go everywhere), and I crawled along on my hands and knees, working some fertilizer into the soil and the knees of my pants. (You'd think they'd make machines for turning soil, right?)
When I finished crawling around on my hands and knees, I swung my leg out over the edge of the garden and damned near emasculated/eviscerated myself on this piece of rebar holding one of the hoops. If I hadn't missed, it could have been quite an event -- lead story on the 5 and fresh compost for the garden, if, in fact, Mr. Bitterman and Furious George said they were willing to work me into the soil. They're like that, which is why I pay them top $$$, just part of my corporate largesse after the most beautiful there ever was tax reform plan.
This was the garden following my efforts, the hoops back safely in place and my coffee frog keeping guard. (You won't believe the number of peanuts I found that squirrels had buried in the garden. I don't put peanuts out. Must come from the bat shit crazy neighbors.) I also had to knock some of the railroad ties back in line after they were pushed out by soil pressure, and, to fertilize the potato pots. (The sweet potatoes were a knock out last year.) It's snowing now, so that should work the fertilizer and compost into the soil just a bit. I'll work on Nora, the lower garden, when it warms up later this week. But Nick, the upper garden, with the exception of a bit more compost along the way, is now just about ready to go -- break the soil a few more times and we can plant.
Joining the coffee frog this year and the demonic gnome this year will be a GOT dragon attacking gnomes, a new Godzilla (Toho Ltd) eating gnomes and King Kong gently playing with gnomes. It's all rather bloody and violent, but I do love it so. I'm really getting into this old guy thing of garden gee-gaws and knick-knacks.
Until now, the Stalin water feature has been a joke, pretty much, but I'm actively searching for a small bust of Uncle Joe that I can drill out and attach to a water pump for real live sprinkling. Let him work on a collective farm for a while and let's see how he likes it. The Donald Trump fountain has yet to be approved by the garden budget committee.
Meanwhile, as all the gnome violence and madness is happening in Nick, the upper garden, Buddha quietly watches over Nora, the lower garden, with great calm and reserve. Nora is a sweet place, after her namesake, and produced spectacularly last season. Later this week, I'll dig up the lower garden and begin its mid winter fertilization. Given the way the first dig in Nick went, I should keep 911 on speed dial. (With my luck, they've find me passed out in the zucchini weeds.)
As for the boys, Furious is already on his way back, ready to talk politics with the bat shit crazy neighbor, while Mr. Bitterman will return right after late January's "Sons of the Desert" convention.
Meanwhile, I shall continue to plot out this year's crop, hoping beyond hope not to lose the plot as soon as I plant thirty identical looking seedlings. And NO zucchini!