Monday, March 17, 2008

Sowin' the seeds

Sunday morning, sunny and mild, maybe in the 40s by the time I made it outside. We've got a whole lot of scrap lumber piled up by the fire pit. Old 2x4s and 2x6s that have been ripped from the house, the shed, or dragged out from the crawl spaces. Some nailed together or peppered with screws. This is stuff we can't use, really, and it's just hanging around, in 6+ foot lengths mostly, waiting to be burned in the fire pit. But burning is a slow process and we'd like to be rid of this pile sooner rather than later. Walking around it with my coffee, I figured that, with some bricks or blocks, we could actually use a lot of it to stack our firewood on. So I started carrying some of the longer pieces out towards the area I had cleared behind the furnace.

It was when I went up to the shed to look for bricks that I got distracted, called once again by the meadow-like clearing behind the walnut tree on the south side of the yard.

I followed some deer paths and found myself in a clearing that I don't think I've ever noticed. At the north end of the clearing is a stone wall. Growing along the stone wall is typical vegetation - walnut trees and scrub. Turning around to face south, there is a pretty thick barrier of these still-unidentified saplings and thorns. I learned that if I get down on my hands and knees, at rabbit level, I could make my way into the thicket. I hung out in there for a while, took some pictures of the saplings and vines, hoping that these would help me identify them, and then pushed on through the thicket and into another clearing. I knew where I was this time, just a bit further south, a bit closer to the road.

I noticed that this clearing is bordered by another stone wall, and is higher than the final strip of land which is right near the road. We've got real, intentional borders within our property lines. In the past, we've hypothesized that these walls surround land that was once cultivated; the ground is softer, there are more grasses and less trees, and it would make sense that they cleared the rocks to the borders. But what I realized Sunday, was that we've actually got three levels of terraced land, each one bordered by stone walls. The whole thing makes a nice wide strip up hill to the North, and is connected to our back field, the one we always imagined we might start our veggie expansion in. It was a neat and exciting discovery, and it puts that back field better into context.

That was a nice start to the day that we would sow our first seeds.

We washed out our seed flats and mixed up some soil, using 1 part garden bed soil to about 3 or 4 parts potting soil mix. We spent most of our time removing every tiny stone from the bed soil that we added. Once the soil was mixed and added to the flats, we got our garden journal, reference book, and seeds, and started sowing. Two varieties of tomatoes (about 48 plants!), beets, broccoli, carrots, arugula, kale, collards, lettuces, onions, chard, turnips, and parsley. That's the first round - next week, we'll be sowing other veggies and with luck, we'll be pricking out seedlings. We set them up indoors by the windows and we hope that Toes won't jump up on them and think that they're special litter boxes.

Then we packed up some lunches and hiked up to the top o' the prop, and kept going up the steep ridge behind the house. We found a trail of some sort and followed for a while. We didn't make it to the summit, but we got pretty high up. A nice place to eat a late lunch.

Back down the ridge and off to the storage space to bail out a few more things, including another book shelf, and the rocking chair.

Erika touched up the paint on the narrow trim pieces in the studio ceiling, then we swept and mopped the floor in there and it's officially done.

The living room is starting to look much cozier. We made a tasty lasagna.

- John


zoe krylova said...

beautiful! what a sense of satisfaction you guys must be feeling!

Rebekah said...

Life outside the house? Wow!

Must be almost surreal to be getting back to some of the other things you guys love to do to spend your new found time. Congratulations!