Monday, March 2, 2015

Rambling: Focus, the lack thereof, and a lot of landscape fabric

I garden, sew, and write. And cook some. And eat a lot of chicken. I don't have much focus.

Writing is the one area where I'm at least under the illusion that I might have enough talent to go beyond pure hobby. Might. Maybe. Not inconceivable.

But not if I don't work on it. On the writing forum where I hang out, I occasionally discuss the idea that you need to write a million words before you know if you can write. That maps nicely to someone's (I can't find the link) statement that you need to write ten novels before you can write a decent one. Ten novels, a hundred thousand words apiece, there you go. And then there's Malcolm Gladwell's idea of spending ten thousand hours to acquire a skill. A million words divided by ten thousand hours is a hundred words an hour. That's really pretty paltry, but maybe if you include the editing time...

Anyway. I ought to write more. So naturally I spent most of my spare time this weekend farming.

Well, gardening. You remember the farm? It's the roughly seventy by seventy foot vegetable garden that we've been battling with for the past few years. This year, I have accepted (I think) the reality that a garden that cannot be managed on erratic and small chunks of time is a garden that will fail. Fail if I'm the gardener that is. So we planned the garden, this year, accordingly.

We got and installed a gazillion square feet of high quality (I hope) weed barrier, covering the whole thing. We're using it un-mulched, entirely violating the warranty, with the sun beating down, eagerly trying to make it dissolve. I've used this weed barrier before, so I'm hoping it doesn't dissolve it too soon.

The weed barrier is covering a dozen rows, four feet wide, sixty feet long, with two foot paths in between. Each row will be ten six foot long blocks. Plants will be spaced at eighteen inches (twelve per block), or three feet (two per block) or six feet (one per block). I'm treating the path as part of the spacing. That's kind of wide spacing. That's because I want to dry farm (which requires wide spacing) and because I want to limit the number of holes I punch through that nice weed barrier.

Twelve rows, ten blocks per row. The plan for those twelve rows, at least as of at this moment, is:
  1. Pumpkins. Ten plants, one per block.
  2. Roses. Same thing. Yes, I will be trying to dryfarm roses. The roses are probably not pleased.
  3. Flowers, at varying spacing. Maybe one dinnerplate dahlia in a block, versus twelve zinnias, versus two Oriental poppies. Actually, probably no dahlias; they need lots of water, right?
  4. Shrubby herbs, at varying spacing. One rosemary in a block; twelve thyme in a block. And so on.
  5. Blueberries. One per block. I'm still working out how to amend the soil to make it acid enough to keep them from dying the way they did last time.
  6. Perennial and freak vegetables. (Artichokes. Chives. Rattail radishes. Like that.) Varying spacing again. 
  7. Strawberries. Twelve per block, ten blocks. We like strawberries.
  8. Shrub berries--currants, raspberries, that kind of thing.
  9. Copra onions. I'm not sure of my spacing, but right now I'm thinking three onion seedlings in each of twelve holes per block. This will be interrupted with about fifteen feet of preexisting weed-infested strawberries. 
  10. Bush beans. Twelve plants per block. 
  11. More vegetables. I'm not sure what kind. One tomato plant per block, that kind of thing. Possibly more onions, because I just realized that I ordered too many onion plants.
  12. Melons (Blacktail Mountain?) and cucumbers (Armenian). One plant per block.
I'm trying to maintain a nice calm task. by. task. pace in developing the farm. And trying to suppress my desire to do crazy things that I won't maintain. And trying to get the ground ready well ahead of the time that I'm ready to plant.

For example, I want to get the pumpkin row manured (with the bags of manure that have been lying around for two years waiting for me to do something with them) and fabric covered and marked off and ready to insert the seeds before the first of April, because the seeds don't need to go in before May. Or maybe June. And the melon and cucumber row is already fabric covered and could be marked off any time I have ten minutes to do it. And also doesn't need to be planted until May or June. And the strawberry row is covered and marked and ready for me to transplant strawberries.

Right now, the living things in the garden are the weed-infested strawberries, several healthy currant bushes, several near-dead blueberry bushes, one block of twelve fava beans that have sprouted nicely, one block of twelve Sugar Daddy snap peas that I just poked into the ground, and a little scrap of dirt with lettuce seedlings waiting to be transplanted.  I want to add new plants slowly. Calmly. I want this year to be a nice low-key success.

We'll see.


  1. Wow! That still looks like a lot of work to me. I hope it all works out for you.

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

  2. Even if the writing is unfocused, the gardening sounds like it's coming on apace.

  3. Yo, Anna! Yeah, it sounds that way when I look it over, but it's all optional chunks of work, instead of, "Oh, my God, it's all going to fall apart if I don't get out there and weed," sorts of work.

    Vanessa! Bwaha! Yes, it is rolling along. I hope it results in food and things.