So I discovered something this year that I had never known before. I have been informed that the term “Sun-Breaks” is unique to the Pacific Northwet region of the Shire… terminology not heard of in other areas of the United States. We are not talking about, “Oh look! The sun is breaking through the dawn!” or Shakespeare’s, “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” No, we are talking about, “Oh look! there is momentary lull in the blessed, incessant rain; the protective layer of gray that we call sky has been rent in two; and that great foreign glowing orb in the sky is peeking through for one brief moment…ooops, never mind…it’s gone.” My friend from the Midwest was the first to point this out to me. She had never heard the term before moving here. In a gardening book I recently read, the author said the same. It took me aside. I have never known a time when the term was not used. I asked the Hobbit what people in other parts of the country called it. He laughed. He remembered his early years in the Wisconsin Shire and knew what the rest of the land knows…passing clouds. Not our continuous cloud cover.
Which leads me to my main subject – there was this sun-break today, which allowed me to go out and snap some more pictures of our new garden beds now filled with that luscious garden soil. I decided we needed pavers put down to allow the Hobbit a reprieve from mowing in the limited spaces in between them. In the last post, the boxes had just been brought in and put into place. Since then, we had a small mountain of sandy fill delivered and built up/leveled out the area beneath the boxes with that. We chose to put down landscape fabric on top of that. We also secured mole wire (1/4” hardware cloth) to the bottoms of each box. The boxes were leveled and filled with that beautiful soil, more of the sandy fill went down between the boxes, and the pavers were put into place and tamped down. Once again, the Hobbit nephew helping us with his artistic expertise. Here’s what it looks like today:
We haven’t done any planting in the beds yet due to the fact that the rain, the blessed rain, the rain has kept the soil a soggy, boggy mud pit. Each time we think it may be dry enough to be workable, it rains. Again. And again. And again. We are on record for the “wettest February-March period since weather records began in the 1890s (http://www.seattleweatherblog.com/rain-stats/rainfall-2017/). Don’t get me wrong, I am ever thankful for the blessed rain. Without it we would not be the Evergreen State. But it has delayed my plans, and for that I am being impatient.
De 11:13 “And it shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments
which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him
with all your heart and all your soul, 14 that He will give the rain for your land
in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain
and your new wine and your oil. 15 “And He will give grass in your fields
for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied.
Here is the Hobbit himself with his trusted steed Moshe, the 220 lb. Great Dane dogasaurus, by his side, surveying the soil conditions.
Moshe’s loyalty is rewarded with a taste of the new growth of chives waiting patiently to be planted. Zeke the Komondor is never far behind Moshe, worried he might miss out on some tasty Scooby snack:
Next on the schedule is amending the soil and planting. Here in the Pacific Northwet region of the Shire, our soils tend to be pretty acid from all our evergreens, so we will sweeten it with a blend of lime (calcitic rather than dolomite) and other soil amendments. We like to follow Steve Solomon’s advice on soil amendments and add Agricultural Lime, Agricultural Gypsum, Soft Rock Phosphate, Kelp Meal, Feather Meal, Oil Seed Meal, Azomite, and trace amounts of borax, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, and copper sulfate. Most of these ingredients were found at Ace Hardware (one of my favorite stores!). You can find the exact amounts in his latest book, “The Intelligent Gardener” (support your local library!) or online at any number of interweb sites like http://www.growgreatvegetables.com/fertilizers/a-great-organic-fertilizer-mix/.
We are also thankful to the alpacas for their contribution of rich manure that can be put directly into the garden without any need to compost it first. Of course this is true for the goat and sheep droppings too, but the beauty with the alpacas is they deposit theirs in one area to make it so easy to collect and redistribute where needed (rabbit too if you happen to have access to their leavings). The girls boost our soil fertility and provide us with soft, yummy fiber to spin also. Plus, they keep the area mowed down quite nicely so the Hobbit doesn’t have to do the task himself. Win win.
De 32:1 ¶ “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; And let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 2 “Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb. 3 “For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God! 4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.