Thursday, May 28, 2009

Springtime in Sprawlville

The problem with having multiple blogs, as with multiple children I suppose, is that somebody always ends up not getting enough attention. Which is probably why I only have one kid. But now that I'm back from the Liberal Convention, hopefully I'll find the time to do some more substantive posts to poor, neglected Sprawlville.

Spring should also inspire more frequent updates. I've got about half the garden dug up, and I have a couple of ideas that I hope will make things go a little more smoothly this year. One is to give up on my haphazard layout working around existing plants, and just go with straight rows. The oregano was nice, but by August last year I was having to hack my way through it with a machete just to get at the tomatoes.

The other idea is to lay down paper mulch in the form of newspaper. I first ran across this in conjunction with the no-dig method, but it's apparently just as effective on its own or under a layer of hay or other traditional mulches. In theory it's supposed to keep the weeds down, keep heat and moisture in the soil (or maybe not heat?), and then rot away by the end of the season. They actually have paper mulch at Lee Valley Tools, but at ten bucks a roll I figured newsprint would do just fine, thank you.

I picked up four different varieties of heirloom tomato seedlings from my Willow Creek friends at the Farmers' Market last weekend, and a bunch more seedlings from La Rose yesterday: mixed lettuces, swiss chard, bok choy, basil, and in a fit of optimism, a sweet red pepper plant. Now I just need some kale and an assortment of bean and pea seeds and a proper trellis, and I'll be ready to go!

BTW, the heirloom tomatoes came with an incredibly informative pamphlet with tips and tricks for growing tomato plants. Stuff a noob like me would never have known like pruning them back, or planting them deep to generate more roots. I'll ask Crystal and Kelly if I can post it here. Any other suggestions in the 'Vegetable Gardening for Dummies' vein are always appreciated.

I also wanted to share a couple of new blogs on the blogroll. Well, new to me.

openalex is a blog by Alex Aylett, who has some serious academic creds in the urban redesign and sustainability field. He currently lives in Durban, South Africa, so he comes up with some fascinating articles like this one about the Durban water & sanitation utility generating power from biogas and micro-hydro from excess water pressure.

The New Resilient is a group blog put out by some of the bright lights in the food security / sustainable agriculture / re-localization movement, like Jon Steinman of 'Deconstructing Dinner'. Always interesting stuff - and one of the nicest looking blogs I've seen in a while.