Saturday, March 31, 2012

Small is Good

It is March in the Valley of the Sun. Perhaps our most beautiful month, if what you like is blooming, blossoming, teeming life. Spring here is like spring anywhere in the U.S., just a little earlier. And, too, it is a fleeting season. This is our short growing season. Soon summer's temperatures will challenge all but the most draught tolerant plants. So we pack our gardens full of food and flowers that will nourish our eyes; our bodies; our souls. I predict a lot of preserving coming up in the months ahead.

But for now we have work to do.

Though we would dearly love more land - we scheme, pour over Craigs List, consult real estate postings near and far - there are some definite advantages to being small. Fewer weeds, for instance. The most "weed" work we do on our little farm is taking things we love out of places where we don't want them. I referred to the Ixia a few weeks back. We have since pulled the spent plants, transfering a bunch of seed into the flower bed. If your plant is in the wrong place, regardless of how much you love it, it is still a "weed".

It is also thinning season. Hands in the dirt, dirt under the fingernails, back breaking, pain staking, healthy, strong, delicious work.

This morning I tackled the beets. Beet seeds are called multi-germ, meaning they produce more than one seed per seed ball. So, regardless of how careful you are in your spacing at planting time, they will have to be thinned at seedling stage in order to produce mature-sized beets. You will most often hear the suggestion that you eat the thinnings. Very true about baby carrots as well as beet seedlings. However, according to my favorite go-to book, "The Encyclopedia of Country Living", by Carla Emery, these thinnings can also be transplanted. Water well the existing plants. Fluff up the patch that you will plant. Delicately lift \ uproot the smaller plants and stuff them in the new patch. Pat down gently and water well. We'll see how well these seedlings "took" in another day or two.

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