The garden has floated to the top of the to-do list, probably because it’s going to be a hellish lot of work before any noticeable result comes of it. Samhain next year? Maybe, but I have to really get moving now. Even so, I’m not making any promises or plans or taking orders for my organic produce — no, none of that. The garden will happen in its own time.
And besides, there’s the apiarist apprenticeship I have to get to as well. I think I forgot to mention that yesterday. Actually the whole garden plan came about secondarily to the beekeeping idea. A few years ago, a swarm came along and tried to start a nest in the tree where the doggie used to hang out. It wasn’t a good time for us to have a beehive right on our favorite tree, so I shooed them off, probably killed them all (more to atone for there). So anyway, there could be bees here, and it would be good to make a home for some of them.
Unfortunately (for us all), there have been extremely few bees this year. There were some in early April, but after that I neither saw nor heard any bees for months. Only in July did I see some when the sages bloomed after the rains started. Sages are such little whores, popping out in flowers every time the humidity gets over 30%. Anyway, it seems clear that the bees need help, and so that’s a goal.
Meanwhile, I’ve been reading through the UofA Ag Extension’s Master Gardener manual. Last month: Chapter 1, Botany: all the parts of plants, structural parts and the sexy bits, cell structure, nutrient transportation systems, and the whole photosynthesis deal (both the Hill Reaction and the Calvin Cycle) with transpiration and respiration explained. I learned that a flower can be perfect without being complete, and that perfect flowers are, apparently, hermaphrodites. So think about that. I also learned that there’s a name for that helicopter thing maple seeds come in (samara). And, of course, tomatoes are fruits (actually classified as a berry), as well as squash, cucumbers and eggplant. And all of those, like all the fleshy fruits, are actually just overgrown ovaries, so that’s a nightmare waiting to happen, right there.
On to Chapter 2, which is all about dirt. They call it “soil”, which may be that fancy kind of dirt they have over there at the University, but in my yard, it’s just dirt. There are apparently three kinds of dirt: sand, silt and clay, and all Arizona dirt has some of each (but in varying proportions). Also, our Master Gardener likes pretty colored dirt best. Red and brown dirt are favorites, and yellow might do, but if you dirt is gray, you’ve got a lot of amending to do, apparently.
And, there’s homework! Today’s assignment: figure out the proportions of sand, silt and clay in my dirt. Here’s how: take one cup of dirt, 3 tablespoons of dishwasher soap and 2 & 2/3 cups of water. Put in a glass jar and shake vigorously (but intermittently) for 10 minutes, then let stand for 24 hours. Then measure the layers: big sand & pebbles on the bottom, then fine sand, then silt then clay. It’s standing on my kitchen counter now; I’ll let you know tomorrow how it all falls out (heh, literally).
I know, you can’t wait to find out!