easy picking for the Phoebes
Monday, May 17 2010
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
I could feel a scratchiness developing in my throat today, a feeling that traditionally precedes a head cold. This winter, though, I'd had that feeling several times and it had spontaneously gone away on its own. There isn't much to celebrate in the gradual slide through middle age, but it does seem that the immune system gradually improves as it becomes more experienced at fighting off disease.
A couple years ago we'd given our neighbor Andrea $200 so we could feel free to take mushroom dirt whenever we needed it (she gets it by the truckload). Unfortunately, though, this year she's been gardening someone else's property and leaving her own garden to languish. And when I asked if I could maybe come and take a wheelbarrow of mushroom dirt, she said she was running out and that I should wait for when she gets more. That gets to the heart of the problem with relying on other people, even friends: it seems like a good idea at the time, but in practice it ends up being awkward and annoying. This is related to another point that I've learned through experience to be true: never loan anything to anyone, no matter how friendly you are with that person, unless you are content with never seeing it again.
In the absence of quality mushroom dirt, I've been performing my own ad-hoc topsoil alchemy on the two new terraced tomato patches. I get buckets of topsoil or rotten wood from the forest and mix it in with dogshit gathered from random spots in the yard. I also have been burying five gallon buckets of urine-soaked leaves down near the bedrock, hoping that from there the ammonia can slowly percolate up and feed the roots nitrogen.
Today I made a final push on developing the second tomato patch, culminating with the addition (beneath the topsoil) of five gallons of humanure that has been composting (albeit not well) since November. This was from the last batch collected before I began using the brownhouse (yes, children, from August to November, 2009, I shat in five gallon buckets). It dates to a time when I was using wads of grass instead of toilet paper for certain basic hygenic purposes. Though it didn't really have much of a fragrance, you could tell this humanure wasn't thoroughly composted because it immediately attracted clouds of flies. Their drunken exuberance made them easy picking for the Phoebes (our summer-resident flycatching birds).
Once I had the soil prepared, I planted the three tomato plants Gretchen recently bought from Davenport's (which had been languishing in our greenhouse for over a week).
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