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Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Crocus Grows

While I work on amending my garden and getting things planted (yesterday the peas and spinach and radishes went in), and while I set up my next post on those very things, I thought I'd share a taste of spring:


Monday, March 18, 2013

The Proof is in the Test

Last year was The Year of the Kitchen.  I took one year (and an extra month or so) to renovate our kitchen, from the floor to the ceiling lights.  I worked hard, I learned a lot, and now we have a kitchen I really enjoy working in.  And I spend a lot of time in it.  I've expanded not only my construction know-how, but also my cooking, baking, and kitchen skills, learning how to grind my own grain for bread, ferment vegetables, and make yogurt.  It's been a great year.  (I will eventually get around to sharing some pictures -- I promise.)

This year has been dedicated as The Year of the Garden.  I thoroughly enjoy gardening, and had a community garden plot when we lived in Belchertown.  I credit working in that garden to allowing me to be calm during the interview that led to the job I have now -- and with producing many great vegetables for our table that summer.  Unfortunately, since moving to Hadley, my garden has produced very little.  It is a sad little garden.
I started working on this year's garden in the fall, putting in some soil improvers and building a compost pile of my own, in the hopes that this year my garden would be better and stronger.  I have also already built a pea trellis, purchased my heirloom seeds, and planned my garden map.  Today a visit to the Hadley Garden Center was made, in order to purchase some more of those gardening necessities. However, before purchasing more soil builders (which were on my list), I decided to purchase a soil test instead.  The results of that test follow.
The pH test did not turn out too badly.  It looks like our soil hovers around acid (6.0) -- a suitable level for most veggies.

However, our soil greatly lacks nutrients (I kind of already knew this, but the proof is in the test).  Potash is nearly adequate (perhaps because I added wood ash last year?), but nitrogen and phosphorous are both depleted.  I will need to work on this if I expect my garden to grow.
(I did run a second test from another part of the garden; it turned out a slightly better result in phosphorous and potash, but not nitrogen.)

As I said above, I added some top dressing in the autumn, hoping that some of those delicious nutrients would filter down into the soil over the winter.  Apparently, not enough have.  Time to improve the soil in the garden!

My biggest question in all this -- why isn't that rich Hadley soil that grows all those wonderful vegetables in my garden?  I know, I know -- I don't live on the flood plains....

More on the garden coming later!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Bear Necessities

The other night, as we were settling in to watch an evening movie, we heard a rattling at what we thought was the garage door.  Thinking that perhaps the cat was in the garage and wanted back in the house, I walked into the kitchen.  I glanced around and there, at the kitchen window, was a black bear.  He was very intent in swatting down the birdfeeder that suctions to the window in order to get at the black oil sunflower seeds inside.  He did indeed get that birdfeeder, as well as the one hanging in the lilac bush, before Mr. Madley was able to scare him away with only a wooden spoon and a pot.
It was amazing.  I haven't seen a bear in the "wild" before, and I was fairly excited.  I was also pleased when I discovered the next day that neither of the feeders were ruined.  I'm still rather in awe. (The pictures didn't turn out well, since they were taken at night through glass.)

Let this be a warning -- the bears are awake -- and they are hungry.

This bear was seen in the Rocky Hill Road / Highland Circle / Huntington Road area.