New home for beans. . .

cinder-block-bed-constructionIt’s hard to see in this picture, through the strawberry plants and woodchips, but I’ve started a permaculture in the immediate vicinity of  the house (just to your right in this picture). The area is paved with large rocks, taking advantage of the heat from, and reflected by, the building, and conserving moisture. Fortunately, when I built the original wooden bed on this site I  measured it for an even number of blocks and therefore didn’t have to move any paving stones when wood became CBUs.

The blocks are dry stacked, no mortar. I dig about a foot down and lay a trench of screened gravel to set the first row.  Digging below the frost line here would have me going down six feet, and I can’t do that without a blasting permit.  Some of my earlier beds are two winters old now and are still standing. If a block pushes out I just dig a new space for it and push it back in (use a rubber mallet or your booted foot – not your hand).

Fresh off the project, I have some lessons learned for dry-stacking blocks on a sunny afternoon: 1) wear gloves and a canvas apron, 2) your eye is good, but the level is your friend, 3) keep the surface of the blocks clean as you build – that stray grain of sand is the pea in your mattress, 4) sit and admire your work every once in a while, listen to the wood frogs, and 5) when you’re all done and the tools are put away have an Advil, or Arnica or vodka, or possibly all three.

I’m planning to surface bond this bed as an experiment. It will be planted with Jade and Provider green bush beans, with nasturtium in the cells around the edge. Now on to the A., A. and V.


Other avenues. . .

I keep a notebook of places to paint, eventually, some day when I have more time out of doors.  Some of these houses and trees will wait till I return and some have been torn down or “restored” out of character. The images are  glossy 4 x 5’s taken with an ancient auto-everything Nikon and worked over with a Sharpie and photo retouch markers.

Page 2, snowstorm

Page 8 - Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor

Page 3 - Cromwell Rd.

Weather post – First day of spring

Sambuca candensis "Good Barn"

This is not what the garden looks like right now. Today, the max-min thermometer in the (unheated) hoop house registers -7 and 111 degrees. That will have to even out over the coming months to make a fine crop of elderberries. This particular bush is from Fedco, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (MOFGA) seed co-op. It’s called “Good Barn” because it’s a descendant of “that good bush down by the barn” at the Nearing homestead. It is disease-free, gives a bountiful crop and the deer don’t seem to like it even enough to nibble at the blossoms, which are beloved by the bees. My only complaint would be that it grew wildly beyond the predicted 6′ tall and wide, and when it hit twice that I had to relocate it from the dooryard (where it’s cool shade was our old dog’s best friend) to the lower garden. Where the Russian crab, below, will be in bloom in a month or two.Russian Crabapple

Also in this picture: horseradish, Chinese forget-me-not, valarian, calendula and day lilies – all the robust volunteers of early spring.