Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wonderful Weekend's Work

gaWe had delightful visitors last weekend. Our daughter Sara drove up from Chicago to check out the new farm. She brought her boyfriend, Mike (a very sweet guy), for us to meet, and we put them to work. It was a perfect fall weekend and we accomplished a lot, ate some fabulous meals, and had a great time with them.

Rog's focus was building our second earthen pizza oven upon the wooden cable spool we got the previous weekend. This improved oven is a bit larger than our first and has much thicker walls for insulation, a brick arch opening and a chimney for better air flow. Sara and Mike dug many wheelbarrow loads of clay mud from the west pasture, which we all constructed into the oven wall. This photo shows the outer layer of straw and mulch insulation - which will be covered by another more beautiful layer.

We all took an exploratory walk on our land. Rog and I hadn't really walked much of the west 5 acres before. It is mostly bordered by large trees, and in the center is an overgrown field with lots of wildflowers and sumac. Also some huge buckthorn trees to be dealt with! We met a few impressive spiders, too. This one was about 3 inches in diameter and was missing one leg.

I disassembled a few of the garish 1970's lamps I have been collecting for their colored glass parts. I intended to use the glass orbs in future garden sculptures but it occured to me that if I set them on top of the fence posts they would look sort of like pumpkins. I inserted the PV solar lights into two of them and they glow in the dark. They really light up in the morning sun, too!

Of all the books on permaculture gardening I've been reading, the most inspiring one so far is Ruth Stout's No Work Garden Book (out of print, but I ordered it on-line). She says this kind of gardening is great for people who are busy, indolent, old or have bad backs--perfect for me! I also like this heavy-mulching, no-till approach because it follows nature's strategy of growing things and it continuously enriches the soil. Supposedly you don't even have to till established sod--you can just mulch over it-- but it takes a year or so for the sod to totally break down, so I decided to till this fall to give my garden a head start. I called up a fellow a couple miles down the road who had a sign in his yard that advertised "Garden Plowing." He turned out to be a really nice fellow with the appropriate name of Ward Field. Last night I staked out my garden plots and he rototilled them. The earth smelled so wonderful! Now I will mulch the gardens with layers of newspaper, manure and old hay for the winter. The plots don't look that large to me, but Rog assures me they are plenty ambitious.

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