Monday, January 18, 2010

Gardening in January: Yes we can

We had a bright, relatively low-wind (only about 10-15 mph winds) day so of course I dashed outside in my work shoes and grabbed a rake. I also wanted to grab a hoe, but I couldn't find it. I'm sure it's someplace dark and scary. Poor hoe, all alone ...

Anyway, I'm pulling off as much stuff from the surface of future veggie beds as I can prior to getting rid of the sod. All that material doesn't have much in the way of nitrogen and nutrients anymore. Rain and plant action (plants pull as much nutrition our of their leaves as they can get away with to store up for spring growth) have made sure that the compost I make from this stuff will be lackluster at best. But there's one thing that can't be taken away from me.

Rough material to help break up the clay. I can fertilize, then lay the compost on top to help feed the top soil into something less clay-ey.

So I plan on composting as best I can in our relatively warm winter climate and then turning this stuff into a mulch. Now, back in the old days, before reading up on our region, I would have thought I wouldn't be making enough compost to really bother with. That's before I found out that it only takes about 1/4" to make a difference to the soil. More importantly, it's harder for our local pests to hide in thin rather than thick mulches.

Pests aren't that big of a deal for most ornamentals, but they are to tasty veggie beds. If you live in the Portland metro area, btw, you might try baiting for slugs now. Because of the warmed-up weather, they're out of hibernation with special ferocity, and will be even bigger and stronger when real spring comes along thanks to this bonus feeding time. If you have slug problems, the more you can get rid of now, the better it'll be come spring, and the less likely it'll be that your first flush of perennials will get chomped down to soil level the second they poke out a few buds.

I'm incredibly sore, and I haven't even gotten to the next day soreness part yet. Part of me is hoping for more good weather, while another part is wondering if a little rain might not give me a good excuse to put a full day of writing in tomorrow (and recuperate from raking. Yikes.)

On the writing front, I got a nice letter from a big glossy SF/F magazine--my story has moved on to consideration by the main editor. Wish me luck!

And now, for general amusement: Yet another reason why we shouldn't get a ferret.

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