Friday, April 19, 2013

Springing Into Action!

budding flower opening in the spring garden at Laughing Heart

Andres & I were away for much of the winter and then some and it is so good to be back at Laughing Heart when there's such a vibrant, lively energy. And we're back in good time to pitch in with all that needs tending. Spring is a busy time on the land! As glorious as the gardens look with all the showy flowers and vibrant colors come to life after waking from the winter slumber, there is also much that needs tending. This week has been full with spring cleaning, feeding and seeding!

First, the cleaning. There are many beautiful grasses growing all around Laughing Heart, giving it such a wild feel. However, some of the grasses will become quite a chore once they have dried up and their seeds become stickers. The major culprit this year is the foxtail. Its stacked column of seeds will become dry and tenacious little stickers that work their way back into the ground, your socks and your poor dog's ears. So, we are doing our best to eradicate as much of this grass as we can through hand pulling and weed whacking, then collecting all pieces to haul off to green waste (you don't want these in you compost!). In the fall, we will likely wood chip the area then seed clover as a cover in an effort to thin the population even further. We also cleaned up the grasses around the bases of the trees (keeps them healthier) and where wildness was encroaching on the garden beds.

repairing, replacing irrigation for garden beds
Andres & Logan repairing irrigation
With the days warming up, it was time to put the shade cloth over the green house to keep tender seedlings protected. The sunny days also have the plants and trees calling for more water. Andres & Logan repaired and revamped the irrigation around the gardens to fit this year's bed shapes and sizes and be sure everything is getting the flow of water needed to thrive. It feels great to have this system in place as hand watering is a big job here!

compost tea on orchard trees
Andres spraying home-brewed compost tea
Next up was feeding time. With so many of the plants and trees in such an active state of growth, it feels like the right time to give them a boost of nutrients. We brewed up a batch of compost tea using worm castings, steer manure, fish emulsion, dried kelp and 50 gallons of water. All of this was left to bubble overnight so the tea would be full of the nutrient rich microorganisms that make the garden so happy. The next day we fed all the greenhouse plants, potted plants around the land and did a foliar spray on the orchard trees. It's amazing how vibrant everything feels after a feeding!

greenhouse garden, transplanting fennel
Simran & Hanna transplanting fennel
After all the clean-up, set-up and feeding, we were able to get to the task we'd been longing for...planting! There were lots of starts in the greenhouse ready to be transplanted. Hanna & I cleared all the flowering broccoli, past-prime peas and anything with aphids or mildew until there was plenty of space for the little seedlings. We gently turned the soil, added worm castings and a light watering before transplanting fennel, dill and peas and seeding lettuce, kale, beets and carrots into the greenhouse beds.

seeds for watermelon, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and sunflowers
So many starts!

Hanna suggested we get a good head start on the next round of greenhouse and garden starts by planting lots of seeds into small containers. So today we gathered soil and amendments and filled about 150 little pots with the mix. Then we planted seeds of watermelon, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, dry beans, cucumbers, basil and! This will likely be far more than we can plant in Laughing Heart's gardens. The extras we will use to trade others for their garden specialties we're unable to grow here. That way, everyone gets lots of variety!

raised garden bed, planting potatoes
Tule planting potatoes
Oh yes, we did have one more task! For this one, we had an energetic young gardener step in. Tule (recently turned 5) offered to plant potatoes in the raised bed made just for this crop. He did an excellent job with spacing and plant depth--a real natural. Of course, he's also had years of training with some plant-wise folks.

Tule leaps off the swing

Though there's still more to be tended (always!), the gardens are looking and feeling good. I feel this is not only because the chores are getting done, but also the love we are cultivating in our relationships with each other and the land through working together and taking care of one another. And now we're ready to have a little playtime!