soil like lasagna
Tuesday, January 6 2009
It being winter, it's great to have the greenhouse to putter in whenever I grow sick of being in the house. It's never colder than about 35 degrees in there no matter how cold it is outside, and there's never any sort of windchill. And I have a radio set up there so I can listen to whatever sound is being broadcast from my laboratory computer on 87.8 FM. (Note to self: remember to turn off the transmitter when watching porn.)
For the last several days, I've been focused on digging out all the remaining soil inside the greenhouse so as to expose all the naked shale bedrock and any artesian springs (all of which are now dry) and to help me figure out what I am going to do about the places that, denuded of soil, lie beneath the level of the interior floor drain. (I could have made the floor drain lower than I did, but to have done so would have required weeks of additional ditch digging; as it was I had to trench the drainage ditch more than four inches into the bedrock over much of its sixty foot distance.) I suppose I could put down a layer of gravel in the low spots and then cover the gravel with flat pieces of bluestone.
For most of the recent soil removal, I've been using only two tools: a five gallon bucket to collect the soil and a four inch drywall taping knife. I use the knife to slide over the rock and under the soil, lifting it up like a delicious piece of vegan lasagna fresh from the pan of the underlying bedrock. The soil looks enough like lasagna that I consciously make the connection every time I break loose a serving-sized piece. What makes it so similar to lasagna is the layers, which can alternate between light or dark bands of shale and various hues of clay ranging from nearly white to blue-grey to tomato-sauce-red. For several inches into the bedrock there are occasional layers of shale that have decomposed into clay, creating odd geologic columns in which bedrock rests on layers of what look like soil. In some cases tree roots (none of them thicker than a sixteenth of an inch) have found their way into these layers and fanned out to take advantage of the moisture and previously-untapped nutrients. This vegetative content makes the chunks of intact strata resemble vegan lasagna even more.
This evening, in preparation for fermenting, I used Gretchen's food processor to shred the contents of a large cardboard box full of bruised apples and withered carrots that I'd salvaged from the Methodist church on Kingston's Clinton Avenue when I'd volunteered there Christmas Eve. Carrots made up about 90% of the box's content, and it took a long time (an hour and a half) to shred them all. Gretchen has a top-of-the-line sub-industrial KitchenAid Ultra Power food processor, but it could only shred about four or five cups of carrots at a time. When I pushed it too hard, its overload protection circuitry would kick in and I'd have to wait twenty minutes for it to recover. By the time I was done, I had a five gallon bucket containing over four gallons of shredded carrots sitting atop a couple quarts of of applesauce. Eventually I'll divide my one five gallon bucket of contents into two buckets, add water, pectin, and yeast, and see if I can manufacture my own dilute ethanol. (By the way, I'd bought that five gallon bucket new a week ago; all my other five gallon buckets have been used as collection destinations for my flushless urinal system and are thus fail common-sense contamination conventions.)
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next