|Just as General Patton paid attention to the Army Air Force and rewarded them,|
so I reward the air fleet of the Jackson Rose Gardens.
I anticipated catching up on planting this morning, but Mrs. I said, "Have you looked outside?" I went out to deliver the paper to our neighbor (tossing it to his door). Sassy did not follow me out the front door, so she knew the weather report. The rain was falling down steadily.
On the positive side, the ground will be soft for some digging in the afternoon. When clay soil is a bit dry and bound up with grass roots, digging it is like trying to turn over soil in a parking lot. I left some sod upside down from before and chopped it into submission a day or two later. When I cannot break up sod and put it back where I am planting, I scoop mushroom compost into the hole instead and put upside down sod around the plant - to hold it in place and decompose. This has worked well for roses and raspberry canes.
These steady rains are ideal for the new plants and the revived roses from last year. As the book Plants Are Like People noted, plants love a good bath too, just like us. The rose experts told me that I should dampen the new roses daily when planting them in Phoenix. The hot drying winds were likely to dry them out before they could get a new start.
The straw bales give evidence about why the rains are so important. Mushrooms are blooming on the bales - all over. The expert said to expect and welcome this. Mushrooms are the fruit of the fungus, so the fungi are busy underneath the surface of the bales, just as they are in the soil.
|Teaming with Nutrients is the companion volume|
Plants can also enlist microbial partners to move nutrients to their roots. To initiate these partnerships, roots exude lipids and carbon-based molecules into the soil. These materials, which are produced by organelles in the roots cells, cross through the double-layered cellular membranes and move through the cell walls and out into the soil immediately surrounding the roots. Here in the rhizosphere, the increase of carbon, together with the carbon in mucilage and dead root tip cells, attracts bacteria and fungi and helps sustain populations near the root surfaces. For example, Rhizobia and Frankia are nitrogen-fixing bacteria that form relationships with legumes.
Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plants and get carbon directly from roots, ensuring a supply by providing the plant with nutrients. These fungi literally go out from the plant root hairs and obtain nutrients the roots cannot, both because of the inability of the larger root to fit into tiny pore spaces and the inability of the root to grow the length required. The long hyphae of mycorrhizal fungi help plants obtain nutrients and water. In return, the fungus receives exudates from the plant.
Lowenfels, Jeff; (2013-05-07). Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition (Kindle Locations 2154-2157). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
All gardeners used to look at rain and plants from an elementary school level. "Sun is good. Rain is good. Plants grow. Look, Sally, look. Run, run, run." Anyone can still garden at that level, but knowing what makes this work together is going to increase the harvest and decrease the labor involved.
Last year the sunny garden featured some tomatoes planted late and a rich harvest of ragweed growing through the wood mulch (no newspaper). Relax, that was an experiment to see how wood mulch alone worked as a weed barrier. Simply placing newspaper on the bottom was the best discovery since Hershey added milk to chocolate.
I admit not being the first to use newspapers plus wood mulch, but I take credit for testing the alternatives, including newspapers weighed down (alas, only for a time) with leaves. Newspapers and leaves soak up water fast but they also evaporate quickly and blow with the wind.
This year, straw bales sit on the wood mulch and ragweed remains, with a layer of newspapers beneath to block weed growth. The straw bales are growing strawberries and potatoes primarily, but also some gourds and other plants.
The steady rain is enhancing the production of the the straw bales, which at the worst can create a pile of compost for the future.
Sunny Garden Additions
The sunny garden was just the neglected corner of the yard, but now area will also host some cherry tomatoes, a rhubarb plant, raspberry canes, and some bargain roses ($5 a bush).
Before last summer, that part of the yard was simply a place to mow and trim weeds. The bulk of the work was simply placing Jackson mulch for the winter, bales of straw in the late winter (which I thought was spring). The snow helped the straw start to rot before I could think of planting in it.
When my neighbor had two wheelbarrows of fine, aged autumn leaves, I took them as additional mulch for the sunny garden. When complete the sunny garden should have a row of bargain roses on the left, so Mrs. Wright can cut them any time, a row of straw bales for food and flowers, and a fence area for cherry tomatoes.
The conversion is very low in cost, both labor and money, because everything is based on Creation - soil microbes and creatures building healthy soil for vigorous plants, without sprays or inorganic fertilizers.
|Darwin had trouble with wasps parasitizing pests,|
so he turned from Creation to evolution.