We took one lazy day after our roadtrip and then headed outside. It felt like spring and we were itching to get to work.
We have been here almost a year now and have spent that time assessing the sun, wind, and drainage to plan the layout for our gardens.
We decided to move the raised vegetable beds that we installed when we moved in last May. That area–at the side of the house–will be our little orchard, with fruit trees and berries. Our first project was to start a drainage ditch down one side. We will get the area ready to plant by the end of April.
The raised beds are moving to the area we cleared below the house. Once we remove some stumps, and finish burning brush, we will lay down the frames and finish moving the soil. We are putting in additional raised beds and will have regular beds for potatoes, corn, asparagus, strawberries, herbs, squash, and melons. Perhaps we’re too ambitious, but it’s so much fun.
Along with outside work, I started seedlings indoors. Lots and lots of seedlings. We are fortunate to have triple-paned southern-facing windows that act like passive solar powerhouses, generating enough heat on sunny winter days to warm the house. Because the windows act so much like a greenhouse, I decided to go without heat mat for germination and without supplemental grow lights. A risk, I know.
So far, I’ve been pleased. The kale germinated within 48 hours and all the seeds were up within a week.
Most of my seeds are from Fedco, a wonderful Maine co-op. They have by far the best germination rate of any I’ve ever used. I have had no damping off (sometimes older seeds are more prone to it) except for in two little peat pots of a seed from a company other than Fedco. Interesting. My recently planted pepper plants will be the real germination test, though. They require good warmth to germinate, so we’ll see how they do without a heat mat.
As the plants have been emerging, inside and out, the birdsongs have become increasingly competitive–me, me, pick me! After I saw a male bluebird in full throat at the top of a maple down the street, George quickly put up bluebird and wren houses. I started pruning the lilacs and apples and then … snow.
Lots of snow. About eight inches. It brought the wild turkeys, searching for windfall apples at the edge of the yard.
Then it got cold. The snow has lingered on.
I’m not sure yet how much damage we will see to emerging buds and sprouts.
Today we are housebound by a coat of ice and mizzle of freezing rain. On the bright side, the snow and ice have given me time to finish sewing projects. In January, I was making great progress on a quilt for a granddaughter when my sewing machine started to act oddly. The motor belt seemed to be slipping–something it had never done before. The band was old, brittle, and cracked. I decided that it was time for a tune up anyway, so dropped off the machine at a local fabric store to be picked up by the local sewing machine repairman. His normal two-week turn around time stretched three because, on delivery day, the fabric store was closed due to heavy snow. Three weeks without my machine during prime sewing season.
Finally, the machine came home with a new belt, all greased and lubed, and, for the first few nights, smoothly humming away. The next afternoon, however, I sat down to sew and the new motor band started slipping a bit. I let it sit for a few hours, tried it again that night, and it was fine. But the next day, it started slipping badly. Really badly. Odd that it slipped during the day, but not at night. Then a light went off–actually a lot of light. The machine was sitting right in front in one of our greenhouse-like southern windows, awash in sunlight. That sunlight was HOT and the heat was expanding the band so much as to cause it to slip. Duh. Problem solved.
The quilt is finished and ready to be shipped out west. My quilting style is best described as low-stress or wabi sabi. No seam is too crooked, no corner too awry. I put it together, hope it will come out approximately square , and enjoy the process. A real quilter would roll her eyes and tut disapprovingly. But it works for me.
While the machine was away, I worked on the spinning wheel. When I treadled the wheel without spinning any yarn, all moved sweetly along. But when I started spinning yarn, the drive band tended to fall off the wheel. Eventually I realized that the mother-of-all (wonderful name) was wobbling back and forth when I put tension on the yarn, causing the band to jump off the wheel tracks. I shimmed it up and all went smoothly. My lovely old wheel is now spinning.
Spring goes on.