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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Short Term Goals, Long Term Purpose

I don't know about you, but this spring is going to be a marvel of juggling for me, and I'm kind of grateful that I don't have a job right now to throw into the mix.

Every second Tuesday of the month I play Bunco with a group of ladies, and last June when we all signed up for our month to host, I chose June, thinking it would give me at least a year to finish getting the house in order.  I'm almost done with the hutch, but I still have the breakfast nook and table, and the dining room nook and table to build, and then I need to finish replacing a couple of light fixtures, and get the glass installed in the upper cupboard doors.  I have roughly three months to get it all done.

While this is all going on, I still have to get the beehive installed, and the garden planted. Somewhere in there I'd like to get the chicken coop built, but The Urban Farm store will get new chicks all summer, so it's not a dire requirement for my June deadline. Yesterday we got the uprights for the hive stand into the ground. Today, I sowed the peppers, eggplant, and tomato seeds indoors on the bench.  I also sowed Enfants de Nice heirloom carnations from Renee's Garden, and bee balm for the bees, and then seeds for poppies and sweet peas that I gathered from Steve's sister's garden late last summer.  Actually, they're her husband's flowers- he plants all the flowers at their house.

In spite of all this, one of the most important things I did this week was to plant my nettles, comfrey, and borage at the back of the yard. The nettles and comfrey are for the compost pile, and for making purins.  The borage is for the bees.  Purins are a French invention. The quick explanation is that you ferment nettles in a five gallon bucket of rainwater (chlorine prevents fermenting, so tap water is out), and then dilute it for a plant drench, or dilute it further for a foliar spray.  I first heard about purins on a local gardening show that had gone to visit a famous organic garden in France; the frenchwoman they interviewed said that the purin fortifies the plants so well that they hardly have any issues with insects.  I should warn you that purins are supposed to smell to high heaven, though. I've also read that comfrey makes a reasonable toilet paper, if you had to do without regular toilet paper.  Comfrey is really great for the compost pile though, because it draws minerals from way down in the soil where most vegetable roots don't reach, so when you compost comfrey, you add a lot of minerals to your pile.  The idea behind the nettles and comfrey is to add to my soil fertility, which I hope to keep in the yard. Next fall, I'll try sowing some cover crops.

So my immediate future is a little crazy right now, but some of the stuff I'm planting is really for my long term future.  It's very grounding to think about that.  It helps a lot, actually.


the veg artist said...

Why not install a butt or two while you are at it - although you could already have some, as it's our term for what you call a rain barrel. Mine take the water from the greenhouse roof.
I have discovered your blog in the process of bringing you this snippet, so will back-read over the next few days!

Toni aka irishlas said...

Such a busy woman!

You know, I learn a lot of info from you and I appreciate it! Now if I only had time to implement some of this it would be great.

I think I'll pass on the comfrey tp :0)

Paula said...

Hi VA- I don't have a rain barrel/butt yet, but Steve and I are planning a large rain harvesting system for when we replace our asphalt roof. Asphalt taints the water so you can't use it on vegetables. We would like to replace our roof with a metal roof, which is great for rain harvesting, but that requires two things: money, and the roof we have has to wear out a little more. But it's in the plans!

Toni- you could at least plant the comfrey for your garden- it would be great for that! That way you'll have ready TP (toilet plant) for when all civilization breaks down and you can't get the paper anymore. Trust me, when that happens, you'll be thanking me!!

Paula said...

Thank you for the definition of the English word 'butt'; I forgot my manners!

Jennifer Montero said...

I always feel like an underachiever when I read your posts. I'm slogging through expanding my veg patch, stripping turf and digging in manure. It's Sisyphean.

Re. nettles, they also make a great chicken tonic. Poultry will self-medicate, stripping nettles if they are trying to stave off gastroenteritis. This is only observational knowledge, from watching the pheasants. Our chickens do the same.

Hank at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook has a recipe for nettle spaetzle. I am definitely going to try that this spring.

Re. borage, the flowers are great in salads, and the little blue blooms look great frozen in an ice cube.

BTW What's Bunco?

Paula said...

Don't, Jennifer, because I don't get near as much done as I would if I were truly focused. Like right now I should be reading Mini-farming so that I can review it before it's due back at the library tomorrow, and failing that, I should be working on breakfast and dining nooks plans. So what am I doing? I'm letting myself be distracted instead of being productive.

Bunco is a dumb dice game. I've seen it said that you play it with five dice, but we use three. From Wikipedia: "Bunco is popular particularly among middle-aged housewives[citation needed]. As it is played today, Bunco is a social dice game involving 100% luck and no skill (there are no decisions to be made),[4] scoring and a simple set of rules. Women who are part of a Bunco club take turns as the Bunco hostess, providing snacks, refreshments and the tables to set up the games. The hostess may also provide a door prize. Small amounts of money can be involved as well. The object of the game is to accumulate points and to roll certain combinations. The winners get prizes (provided by the hostess or pooled from the club resources) for accomplishments such as the highest score, the lowest score, or the most buncos." I can attest to the middle aged housewife thing, being one myself, however, my bunco group has old ladies as well as recent college grads in it; most of them are related though.

click clack gorilla said...

Purins? Wow, awesome. Love your blog exactly because of learning little interesting things like that.

People actually plant nettles on purpose??!?! Haha, we've got enough of 'em here for everybody...