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Earth Day 2008

I celebrated Earth Day by finally starting to plant the vegetable garden. No photos yet, but a new camera to replace the one that died is in the works. Peas! Lettuce! Broccoli! I don’t start seeds indoors anymore and I’m happy to support my local garden center so in additon to sugar snap pea, lettuce and radish seeds, I also planted 6 Red Sails and 6 Packman seedlings to encourage the garden – and give me an earlier harvest.

Of course, as the snow melted, I was able to do a little work. In addition to cultivating the old vegetable garden which is now in pretty good shape, we are experimenting with Eric
Toensmeier’s system of sheet mulching to start a new garden space without tilling. I moved about 12 wheelbarrow loads of uncomposted chicken manure and spread it on the new space, right on top of the sod. Then we watered it deeply, the manure and the soil. Then we covered the manure with large sheets of cardboard we got from our recycling center, Making sure there was good overlap between pieces.

After watering the cardboard so that it was soaked we covered the whole thing with plastic. The plastic isn’t part of Eric’s technique, but I didn’t have soil or sufficient compost (until today) to cover the whole area of cardboard which can dry out very fast. It is keeping everything moist, and it has been so hot the last couple of days that I think the plastic is helping that manure cook and rot faster than it might.

I’ll be planting large vegetables like squash in this new experimental bed, mulching between plants in my usual way with newspapers as well as cardboard covered with straw and grass clippings. I’ll keep you posted.

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