Godless in the garden


Godless in the garden

Discussing all aspect of gardening.

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Comment by Annie Thomas on October 7, 2012 at 3:36pm

Beautiful web, Sentient!  And Joan, your comment made me think of the Science Friday episode a few days ago.  Ira Flatow was interviewing Steven Strogatz.  He wrote the book, "The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity."  Flatow brought up a Feynman quote about finding joy in knowledge, and asked Strogatz if he agreed (which he did).  He gave the example of seeing the Fibonacci sequence in so much of nature, from the number of scales in a pine cone's spiral to the seeds in a sunflower.  It's funny, as it is things like this that perhaps could be the only way to convince me that there is any type of god or "creator"... but it doesn't. ;-) If you are interested in the program, you can listen to it here: http://www.npr.org/2012/10/05/162372203/steven-strogatz-the-joy-of-x

Sentient:  Do you know what type of spider created this web?

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 7, 2012 at 1:49pm

An incredibly beautiful evidence of fractal geometry in living things, and the existence of patterns in nature. I wonder how the spider knows how to build a web? Perhaps, one day, we will be able to understand the workings of the brain and body. But for now, I can just enjoy the shapes, forms, textures, and colors all around us and realize I/you/we exist following the same evolution processes to make life as we know it. How could we ask for anything more?

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 5, 2012 at 1:23am

Red oranges from Sicily! I wonder what the chemical components are to make such a flavor. Are they able to bottle it, or freeze it? But then, that goes against my principle of eating locally. Oh yes, we do need to make some changes. 

Comment by Plinius on October 5, 2012 at 1:07am

Of course there is terroir! You made me think of the red oranges that grow in Sicily on volcanic soil. The taste is unforgettable - and you cannot grow them anywhere else with the same result.

Comment by Annie Thomas on October 4, 2012 at 6:34pm

So glad you are enjoying the topic!  There is a wonderful book titled, "Terroir: The Role of Geology, Climate, and Culture in the Making of French Wine" bu James E. Wilson.  It's a large and rather expensive book, but I wonder if your local library would have it?  It is written by a geologist and the biggest complaint about the book is that it is so heavy in geology (which is one of the things I enjoy about it).

I remember watching the movie "French Kiss" many years ago.  I love the scene where the main character brings out a box he made as a school project that is filled with little vials of different scents.  One has lavender, another truffles, etc.  This was my first introduction to the concept, but also made me wonder what other plants retain something from the soil they are grown in.  Now, some believe there is really no such thing as "terroir", but I beg to differ.

Comment by Annie Thomas on October 4, 2012 at 6:07pm

Sentient- The "weird thing" you think about is not weird at all, but actually a whole study of agriculture.  "Terroir" is a term used to describe a specific area of soil and all of the characteristics of it.  It includes the climate, the topography, the native vegetation, minerals in the soil, and many other things that are escaping me at the moment. ;-)  I always interpret it as the flavor of the land.  It is most commonly used when discussing wine, the terroir of an area also affects coffee, tomatoes, and a growing list of plants (some are even using it to describe and differentiate cheeses).  It is a French word, but the concept of terroir is now believed to date back as far as 3000 BC Egypt, as they understood the importance of the interaction between the environment and the grape vine.  If you google "terroir" you will get plenty of information, in case you are interested in further reading.

I wholeheartedly agree that the local soil gives a certain flavor to some harvests.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 4, 2012 at 1:44pm

No, I probably have just been at it longer. Maybe. Also, like you, I look to research to verify "old farmers' tales". Does clover feed grass? yes! Does soil need to be treated in healthy ways? Absolutely! Other than that, I just experiment, observe, record, ask questions, read research and then do what seems to make the most sense.
Raised beds make excellent sense if you don't use power cultivators, although there are small ones available. I like to get my hands and shovel into the dirt.
Your strategy to plant clover or beans in new raised beds is a good one. Crown vetch works too, but is pesky because it sticks to everything. Turning it in the spring is a big chore and I don't do it any more. I used to. Now, I plant peas or beans and just trowel them in or compost them in the spring. Not at all physically demanding like turning earth. I am doing more no-till gardening and get excellent results. Companion planting is a given. 
I love your comments, suggestions and shared pleasures of a garden. We had heavy frost in my garden but the Spokane weather reports stated overnight lows of 34. My garden definitely got below 32 degrees. My water pipes are scheduled to be blown out tomorrow ... hopefully before they freeze and break. I usually have at least one pipe explode when we turn water back on. It is a pretty sight, but requires immediate repair. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 4, 2012 at 11:35am

On rethinking my first year of growing in boxes using corn, if I were to build them now, I would use legumes because they pull nitrogen out of the air into the soil. 
Discovery in Legumes Could Reduce Fertilizer Use, Aid Environment

Legumes Give Nitrogen-Supplying Bacteria Special Access Pass

plants themselves allow bacteria in. Once inside the right cells, bacteria take nitrogen from the air and supply it to legumes in a form they can use, ammonia.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 4, 2012 at 11:18am

Yes, you correctly point out the flaws in this method; I don't use vermiculite and I have to add some gardening sand easily available along river and creek beds or purchased. When I start a new bed, I layer it much as described in the article. I start with a 2" layer of newspaper and that is freely acquired, then a layer of garden soil, which for me is almost pure peat, then a layer of well composted manure, and topped with compost from my compost bins and pile which contains earth worms. That complete, I have fertile soil in which to place seeds or seedlings, and with the proper amount of water, the roots grow down into the layers turning it into composted worm castings.  The first season I usually plant summer and winter squashes,  melons, legumes  and potatoes which thrive on these ingredients. After the first season, I have tillable soil; after two or three seasons, the entire pile is converted.
I had boxes built to make my raised beds, but as the photo shows, straw, pine needles, grassing clippings work to create a box into which "lasagna gardening" begins.

Thanks for the alert for those who are not familiar with building soils. I don't grow plants, I grow soils. I adjust pH for acid or alkaline preferences of plants and use a cheap pH meter, not the fancy, expensive types. I also use a cheap water meter. 
P.S. the first year I grew corn in the boxes, much to the dismay of my gardening friends, but I wanted to give the stack time to decompose and mature. It worked. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 3, 2012 at 11:52pm

No Dig Gardens Clean, Green and Chemical Free,

raised bed gardens

Raised beds made out of timber, crates, straw bales, pine needles, cinder blocks, just about anything that will make a raised bed; put in newspapers, grass clippings, garden clippings, composted manure; plant seeds or plants and watch them grow. This site has ideas galore. 


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