Thursday, May 25, 2006

Drastic Times Call for Drastic . . . Compost Implants

In my most recent gardening post I mentioned a couple of problems . . . but my list was naively short. For one thing, I later discovered that the nitrogen given off by the roots of the bean plants won’t be available for the nitrogen thirsty corn to use until at least the second year. Since we’re leaving next August, we’ll probably never reap the benefits of the Three Sister arrangement in our Kazamaura garden. Also, in my reckless eagerness, I planted the corn too early and too deep . . . after nearly two weeks it still hadn’t sprouted. Moreover, I didn’t think it necessary to water the garden because it rained once and no one else seemed to be watering their gardens. It turns out, though, that probably the reason no one was watering their gardens was because no one had yet planted anything except potatoes. The result of my ineptitude was the barren waist you see in the photo above, my once proud mounds parched and sterile.

As a step toward rectifying the situation, I emptied out our composter (Stinky) and divided the contents into sixteen piles. (Halve, than halve the halves, then halve the quarters, then halve the pieces of eight).

Then I carefully made square incisions in my earth mounds, lifted the squared surface areas and implanted the compost.

In the process, I uncovered the doomed corn seeds of my first attempt that never succeeded in breaking through to the surface. Finally, I re-sowed half of the earth mounds and left the other half until warmer weather.

Since then there has been adequate rain, quite a few corn stocks have sprouted, and I’ve re-sown the corn in the remaining eight earth mounds. Our unloved and largely ignored potato plants have been doing fine all along. Potatoes never let you down—unless you’re Ireland in the 1840s . . . or the junior high school garden next to ours. Their potato plants are tiny compared to ours, even though we planted later.