I’ve finally got the fire lit under me (in a good way) and I’m focusing on moving the last of my stuff from CT to MA (two hours each direction). This involves two 10-foot long U-Haul bed trucks, coordinating people at both ends for loading/unloading, finishing that sorting through everything I own (okay, I didn’t sort through those pre-digital photos, or the computer disks, but everything else). Shifting boxes and other stuff within my new home so the final furniture can move in seamlessly. AND I have gotten some great helpers here on the unloading end.
I’m not exactly a hoarder, but alas I’m not exactly a minimalist, either. It’s taken awhile, and moving was complicated by surgery last year, physical therapy rehab, and not wanting to move in either heat nor ice. I melt when coconut oil goes liquid – about 78 F, especially if any humidity is involved. (Not doing Bikram Yoga anytime soon…) I kept focus on building up this new place, starting chickens, planning and designing my life up here in the wilds of rural MA. (If you doubt MA has some wilds – I invite you to drive down or up some of our local “roads”. No, it ain’t the Rockies, but after spring melt-off – very interesting… )
I have a titanium plate and several pins in my right ankle. This makes driving the rental truck (or the cargo van I rented before) rather annoying. Mind you, were it not for that, I’m actually enjoying these vehicles. The truck (10-foot bed) rattles a lot in a disconcerting manner when empty, but feels amd acts solid when full.
It’s not just chickens around here…
The Raised Beds
In other news, I now have raised beds. Four, at 12 x 4 feet – more or less 18 inches tall. Bottom construction is pressure treated wood, followed by cedar. Yard fabric lines the bottoms, and various struts are in place to keep the beds intact over the years. Organic soil was used to fill – too many horror stories about topsoil being collected for sale from sites of destruction, such as waste from hurricanes. You don’t know what’s in that stuff.
I did hire out for this – I’d looked into building them myself, but I lack the compaction equipment and, frankly, the construction my landscaper did is far superior to what I’d probably have done.
Bottom is pressure treated wood; top is cedar. Underlying each bed is garden fabric to help prevent things growing up and in these – although I’ll still have to watch for in-blowing seeds. I had them raised high, as I have knee problems – one knee was broken about 20 years ago, and the other had a benign tumor removed a year and a half ago. And the ankle with the pins and plate… I figure a lot of my gardening will be done sitting on a chair if I have to spend extensive time out there. There is five feet between beds – plenty of space for the garden cart to maneuver.
My plan is to grow organically – not going for the certification, but for my own interests. This first year, maybe two, I don’t have any beneficial mycorhizomes going – that’s something that time builds up. Although I did purchase some from Amazon. Powder to be soaked in a proper ratio of water, then dispensed. That’s for a future post, since the stuff just arrived…
I am planting: Yukon gold potatoes, five types of basil as seed), delicata squash, pumpkins – seeds from the neighbor across the street, cherry or grape tomatoes, fennel, watermelon. Greens. Cukes. The rest will be as seen. But next year one bed will be designated as perennial. Yes, loads of asparagus, for certain. I know that the bed with the squash/pumpkins won’t ripen before the killing frosts, but I plan to cold frame / low tunnel around them for that occasion.
I am already raising ALL my own eggs. (Although I may eat out on occasion, I don’t really need to eat eggs out…) My goal is to produce all my own chicken, and about 75% of my own veggies, within a year or two.
The Herb Garden
The oregano didn’t return from last year, but for some reason, the rosemary did. It usually does not like Zone 5 winters. The tarragon was also a fail. I weeded out the bed, added more rosemary (not thinking that the original plant would return…), some Italian oregano, lavender, parsley (last year I had a bumper crop and tabbouleh, here we come!), and sage. I’m told that lavender (Lavendula, sp?) may need some cover to survive winter in this zone (5), so I’m noting this here in hopes that it will remind me to give it a blanket or something… (happy lavender is always happy?).
The sorrel returned, yay!
Strawberries returned, as they are reliably perennial. Of course, just as reliably, the critters that be get to most of them before I can. For some reason, the berries this year are small, but not all have fruited yet.
And the horseradish is happy to be a perennial forever!
Onions that I didn’t pull last year are coming back up, with luck they’ll grow larger bulbs than they were growing last year (which is why I didn’t pull them all). Strawberries are flowering, only a few have set fruit. My asparagus is doing well considering it’s been their first winter and I can’t eat any of them yet (not without affecting future growing seasons negatively).
My wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is doing well – and indeed I used a poultice externally recently when I bumped my forehead on a rapidly-descending cooler lid – go figure… I just didn’t want the bruising. Or the questions. (Who IS beating you up??? No, no one. Maybe the cats?) Wormwood is great for bruises – just apply the poultice prior to bruise formation. It got its generic name from its ability to deal with worm infections. Due to some other side effects, I don’t take this herb internally.
Also, the lady’s mantle, (Alchemilla vulgaris), which I’d transplanted from Connecticut, seems to love its new abode much more than its old one. It’s an herb I’ve merely used for “pretty”, but has a history of use for women’s menstrual issues, wound healing, and even for mild diarrhea. Roots and flowers, I’m given to understand.
I’m planting purslane (Portulaca oleracea), which is often considered a weed, for various health/nutritional effects. A weed, after all, is a plant growing somewhere where you don’t want it… Haven’t seen any growing naturally around here, and since I want it, it’s not a weed!
I will be transplanting the grape hyacinths and the bee balm (Monarda didyma) , aka “wild bergamot” – not to be confused with that real bergamot (Citris bergamia) to be found in your Earl Grey tea – from another part of my yard to this area – I need to nuke down that original area and try to start afresh – weeds are way too out of control there. At any rate, both the M. didyma and the M. fistulosa have similar effects – the later is native to the US, where it can be found wild. Leaves have that bergamot scent. It’s apparently good for calming the nervous system, and might be used to soothe colds and fevers. It got its name from its ability to soothe stings when applied externally as a poultice. (NO< it will not NOT help with allergic reactions!!). Oh, and hummingbirds love it.
Oh, I have planted items with no other known earthly use than just to be purty. I planted three different varieties of mountain laurel (Andromeda) on my north-facing home-entry side, as foundation plants. The one below is the only one currently flowering. I may have missed the flowers from the other two – it really has been busy here! Wild mountain laurel flowers are white (I have some natives in my woodlot), as are many commercial cultivars.