Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Last Straw

It's been awful warm in New York City up until just a few days ago. But, be not concerned, there's snow upstate -where it belongs. I left early, as early as I could after attending a Christmas soiree the night before. Slowing me down, a pit stop at Columbus Circle to load up a crate I built to ship my art to Iowa. The drive was welcome, with little traffic, and thoughts moving rapidly from art to garlic to travel and back again.

It was cold at the farm, maybe in the upper twenties to low thirties, but the sun was warm, especially near the dark soil. Pockets of ice were common and the raised beds that had not seen the sun yet were still hard as concrete.

Two varieties had sprouted well above the ground -Allium sativum ophioscorodon var. Purple Stripe 'Colorado Purple', and var. Turban 'Tuscan'. Generally speaking, sprouting hasn't been much of a problem.

But the grass has. We turned over a lawn to create this plot. I didn't give much thought to the left over clumps of roots and rhizomes. All that remained near the surface have been growing and I added pulling as much grass from frozen ground as I could to my tasks, adding an extra hour to my short, short visit.

Straw was added to most of the rows, but about 15% were left naked. I simply ran out of straw bales that I considered worthy of mulch. The straw-less beds will be an experiment. How many more weeds will be in those without straw; how will it affect the vigor of each head of garlic? We'll see.

I did have three bales, the cheapest bales, that were sitting plot side that I just couldn't use. The picture above tells you why -full of grain seeds all too willing to sprout! If I had more time I would've made the 40 minute journey to the Agway somewhere south of the farm to pick up an additional two bales. But again, not doing so forced my hand to experiment. Someone will ask -what will happen if I do not use mulch? And I will be able to tell them from experience.

On my way in, just off the Thruway, I noticed this house and barn (two, actually) for sale. I got to thinking, if not dreaming, for the minute I pulled to the side of the road.

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