Remineralization

I’ve been diving into the inter-web trying to glean as much information on soil remineralization as my walnut sized brain can handle.  For the most part I’ve agreed that amendment of soils with a soup of crushed glacial till or volcanic deposits makes a very sound argument.  Soils depleted over years of logging, then grazing with little or no return of any organic material would or should be drained of some of its essential mineral elements.  Trying to place a value on the importance of replenishing those depleted mineral elements is what I’m trying to evaluate.  How important is it to the quality and quantity of our produce. Are we missing out on something in the nutritional value of our veggies?  We’re not going hungry due to the lack of production from or garden,  We have good/bad years for some plantings and rarely have a complete failure that I could even begin to blame on soil fertility.  Most times our failures are due to a gate being left open, forgetting to water something during a prolonged dry spell or an invasion of deer, japanese beetles or whatever plague or extreme weather that may sweep through the area.

Our little garden patch started out with a wispy little layer of  what you might call topsoil covering a thick layer of clay on top of a cap of hardpan, intermingled with an abundant supply of field stone.  We’ve worked hard to build up organic material into the garden and remove the rocks.  I’ve been a composting nut!  I’ve gathered an enormous amount of manures, inedible hays, bags full of leaves and grass clippings from folks in town and I have occasionally been spotted loading brown paper yard refuse bags from my sisters neighbors in the burbs of St. Louis and  liberating them in my compost pile 100 miles to the southwest.

Compost

I try to collect as much compostable materials that I can. We have a compost bucket in the kitchen for all of our waste to return to the pile. We usually don’t keep any livestock year round with the exception of our laying hens and my daughters show pigs, so bedding material isn’t a steady addition to our pile.  When I do clean out the coop it does give a nice little “hot shot” to the pile.

What I’m trying to say is that I try to build our soil through a vigorous composting practice but I’m sure that there is something more that can be done to improve our patch.  I’m not a miserly spendthrift, but I don’t like throwing cash at a perceived problem in hopes of fixing things.  First off, I don’t feel our garden is in need of fixing.  Improving…Yes!

So my question that I’ve been pondering is the value of driving, purchasing, hauling and storing a crushed stone product.  Is this a folly of the foolish gardener or a worthwhile addition to a garden that feeds us.  Am I biting on a fad?

 

 

Seed Starts

Jumping the gun again!

Starting at the end of January with some of the flower seed makes perfect sense, but not tomato.  So guess how many freaking tomatoes I’ve started so far?  One would think that going into my 52nd year that I might be able to temper my enthusiasm and delay a seed starting orgy.  I will be able to repot and move everything to the greenhouse without too much of a battle to keep everything alive.  Winter is far from over.  We’ve had a pair of deep cold spells, but it has been relatively mild.  I’m sure we’ve still got a trip to the deep freeze, or two, before the pitchers and catchers report.

Mindflight

It’s still dark out as I’m drinking my coffee and anticipating a beautiful day here.  I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.  The urge to get out and garden is setting in and the long list of projects that I would like to do grows longer.  We have spent evenings sitting in front of the wood stove planning, plotting and prioritizing our spring and summer wish lists.  Pleading our cases before each other on the importance, desire and probability of any given proposal.  Some win, some lose and some get tabled thereby adding to the long list that just keeps growing. All the seed catalogs are in and have been throughly worked over.  We’ve already made a run to a very cool seed company near Eldon, Missouri called Morgan County Seed, so most of our shopping has been completed.  There is still to come our trip to Baker Creek in May.  This years pilgrimage promises to be a very fun twist on an already enjoyable journey.  We will be hanging out with our friends Rob and Willie the potters, and Will and Melissa the blacksmiths.  They will have booths at this years big Spring Planting Festival the first weekend of May.  I’m not sure exactly how much help we will be, but we surely love spending time with them.  If you’ve never been, I do highly recommend a visit to both of these venues.  Come down to the planting festival and see if we can find each other.  They are quite different but very extensive in their offerings. So we’ve talked about what we HAVE to do…paint the house, replace the nasty carpet in our bedroom with a wood floor;  and what we want to do…my smokehouse, replace the high tunnel and build a new pavilion between our barn and the fire pit. Something is definitely going to lose!

Spring Bees

I took the bait and bit hard ordering two 3lbs. packages of bees for pick up in May.  Always wanted to get myself into beekeeping.  Guess I have accomplished that at least in financial commitment.

Thanksgiving

Giving thanks for the morning. Not so strangely, I do this every morning with a cup of coffee and a prayer of gratitude for another breath drawn, regardless of what any calendar may say. I especially feel gratitude this morning for a life so richly blessed.

We will have a small portion of our family with us this evening for a meal. A gathering that will have an over abundance of fine food served in a warm and dry home. Clean, sweet well water and an assortment of nice wines made by our friends from the other side of the river valley. A wood stove with the smells of oaks and hickory adding to the pleasant scents of spices and a big fat turkey slowly roasting in the oven. My parents, both still obstinately walking against the drag of time and gravity, will be here. Mom helping in the kitchen, Dad throwing uninvited comments at mom from a perch not far from the action. His face cracking a slight grin at the tumultuous response from her.

So it is a national day of Thanksgiving. A day so closely removed from a week of turmoil, vitriol and disbelief. A week that has had me looking inside as images and words of my corner of the world are seething. I choose not to hate. I choose to pray for those who are in pain, fear or ignorance. I choose to pray for peace and to work for peace in all those who I have contact with. I pray for an attitude that will allow me to grow as a human being. A long time ago I was told by a very wise old man wearing a pair of bib overalls and peering at me over the top of his thick glasses that I would have to choose a life; be it a palace or a pigsty. It was a matter of choice. It is ALWAYS a choice. That choice is a gift from God. Freewill to choose just how I will carry myself as I trudge a road of happy destiny. Not everyone sees their choice. They are sometimes blocked from the light of day. I am blocked at many times in my life. I do recall with crystal clarity the faintest pinhole of light that eventually guided me to choose the palace. It was nothing more than a narrow beam shining through a keyhole in utter darkness in my mind. It led to a door. It led to choice.

Choose to love.

Happy Thanksgiving

Got Them Hanging

It was a little trickier than I had imagined getting my loft doors hung yesterday.  My brother came out and helped me get the monsters up without killing each other or destroying the doors.  I screwed down three two by six to the loft floor hanging out like a ships gang plank.  The extra three feet of floor helped us wiggle and walk the doors out and lean them back towards the building so trolley could meet track.  It all seemed so easy when I was scheming up a plan.  In practice, the weight and awkwardness of the door size made the whole deal a little more tense than anticipated

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Hootenanny!

 

This is my favorite time of year.  Crisp cool days and chilly nights.  Perfect weather to have a few of our close friends and some new acquaintances out for a fish fry, bon fire and a truckload of music!  I’ve spent the last week trying to finish up some dangling projects and get the whole house and barn cleaned up to receive the onslaught.  If it weren’t for having guests we would never clean the house.

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We were truly blessed with a beautiful days weather. I was so happy that one of our friends daughters got up and played and sang a couple of songs between the bands sets.

We fried up thirty pounds of fillets, put out twenty pounds of pulled pork and everyone brought a side dish.  We fed like cattle at a trough.

Not Falling Down

The past four or five years I’ve let time get away from me when it comes to putting my garlic in the ground.  I usually forget, or it’s too wet, or whatever lame excuse I can conjure up. The bulbs I saved had ended up getting planted in the last days of winter in the greenhouse and pulled in early June.  The quality of the garlic has degraded steadily to the point that I felt like throwing some money at some new bulbs.

I actually tilled and planted the new Music and some other dang variety I can’t recall, in the first bed upon entering our garden.    Got them in the ground and marked the rows and the rains came.  Perfect!  As soon as the peek out of the ground I’ll mulch the rows with straw.

This week I’ll load up our asparagus bed with a thick layer of straw to burn off.  We don’t cut back any of the ferns, just lay out a thick mat of straw, fluff it up and burn it off.  It cleans up the bed so pests and critters (rabbits) don’t have a place to overwinter and the weeds have been far more manageable.  The next day I wet down the bed to snuff out any hot spots, add a layer of compost and recover with another layer of straw.  Now I’m all ready for spring when I will again burn off the old straw and a layer of leaf litter.

 

Loft Doors

My last order of lumber has finally dried to a point that I feel it will be stable enough to get my doors put together.  I’ve played around with the layout of my cuts a little bit.  Not a whole lot differant than the main doors, but just tweaked the width of the rabbets so there is less of a chance to see an air gap in the panels.  The panels are free floating shiplap in the framework of the door, so I’m pretty sure that stretching the rabbet will give me a better look in the long run.

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I’ve used some monster lag screws on all the joints in the frame of the doors.  The screws are ten inches long. so they are providing a lot more stability than what I had used on the lower doors.  Glued and screwed.   The lower doors have been hanging untreated with very little negative results.  I’m thinking that one more year of aging will give me the patina I’m wanting, before adding any wood preservative.

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Now I’ve got to figure out how to hang these beasts without killing myself.

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Float/Fish

This past week I had a chance to go fishing on the river with a friend of mine from St. Louis.  We had planned on floating eleven miles of the Meremac from a local outfitters access down to my brothers farm.  One of the things that just drives me nuts about float fishing from open top kayaks is that these boats are made for the weekend floater who will have a small cooler strapped to the stern of the boat.  There isn’t any god place to stow a spare rod or small tackle bag/box.

I had seen a very expensive custom fishing kayak that had the rod holders but all of its storage was designed to keep gear dry. We’re not floating class one rapids on our local streams.  I want to be able to reach back and grab my tackle, a water bottle or a knife without pulling, screwing or having to untie some sort of lidded compartment.  Milk crates worked great for furniture for most of my life, why not for a simple fishing trip.

So I put together a pair of these simple racks for our trip.  

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After a full day of use I only have one modification I want to make to the design.  I want to add another pole holder.  Everything stayed where it was suppose to and the tiedown strap on the stern turned into a nifty handle for pulling the boats out to the truck after our arms were cast out.  Sadly the fishing sucked from the stand point of meal prep.  A whole lot of tiny small mouth bass and some goggle eye, but nothing worth keeping.

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