At the risk of flying against my strong Scottish Ancestral winds, allow me to state emphatically, with great zeal, and determination and without the slightest hesitation, I HATE thistles.
It is wrong of me, of course, but I've noticed, being wrong seldom stops me from doing a thing. I HATE thistles.
I am wrong in hating thistle because in the ten years we have lived here, thistles, and thistles alone, have conquered my hard pan soil. Buckwheat that is suppose to grow on concrete, languished and died. Radishes that were suppose to "break up" the hard pan, grew their roots in the air, with only the tiniest tip in the soil. Even cat's eyes could only penetrate a fourth of an inch into the hard pan. Thistle, and only thistle drilled into the soil to eke out an existence. I would like to think that somewhere inside my chest beats a grateful heart. Alas, I have been ridiculed, mocked and scorned for the sake of these prickly, spiteful weeds. In truth, by the time these vile plants will have done their job and made my soil friable, we will have moved, our landlords will have developed the land and all my hopes will be for not. I will forever carry the burden of shame of growing a meadow of thistles in my front yard, ON PURPOSE! ( No, it wasn't on purpose; it was out of submission.) I will never be allowed to reap the benefits of my suffering. And yet, for all the humiliation and shame and loathing, I am forced against my will and desires, to admit they have done this land good.
I compost continuous and continuously, I doubt my efforts. This is due to my wrestling with composting what is available to me versus what I "should" be composting if I were a purist. I would refuse a lot of the rabbit poop available to me because the people use dry bedding instead of straw. Dry bedding just doesn't decompose the way it should. But the idea of all that poop going to the landfill is even more unappealing. Am I helping the planet, or just being an idiot?
It takes me three to six months to collect enough raw material to build a standard 4 x 6 x 6 pile. By this time, more than half the material has lost its heat.
My piles don't have the diversity of materials I wish they did.
I can't afford to buy the products recommended to help in composting.
I struggle to know, bury the compost? or leave it to rot on the top of the soil?
When I bury it, I feel guilty about digging into the soil, because I feel that the soil does better when Man leaves it alone. When I leave it to rot on top, I can actually see how the fumes from the pile affects the leaves of sensitive trees.
How could something so simple be so complex?
Why do I struggle to feel good about it? Because, after six years, I haven't seen the benefits equal the effort. Too much wood product, too much poop, too many grass clippings, not enough other vegetative materials. I don't end up with a low end product. And yet, I can't stop, because as low end as it feels, it is still miles ahead of what was here to start with.
I just wish composting was easier.
I'm a whiner, I admit it.
My hubby is a landscaper and it has long irked me that the most common gardening mistakes are so common due to their popularity. On one level, that makes sense, on another...
* Over planting of hedge plants
* Over planting and abusing lawns
* Wasteful irrigation
* Over tilling the soil
* Unnecessary, careless use of poisons
* The staking of plants
I wish I knew Gilbert and Sullivan so they could make me a little song. :-)
You know how it is, you read something that is only part right, and it bugs you, right? Because the person talking has better media coverage, so folks think they must be right, right? But they aren't.
In this case, I'm referring to the "eat less meat" campaign that believes eating less meat will save the planet. Well, they aren't wrong, but they also aren't right. Consuming less of everything is good for the planet. Less food, less plastic, less electricity, less gasoline... the list is nearly endless. But I draw the line on less meat. Why? Because meat is food for the soil: feather meal, bone meal, blood meal, fish meal, oyster shell, and we haven't even gotten to manure: steer, llama, goat, rabbit, chicken, horse. The soil would die without animals. We don't need fewer of them, we need more of them. What we need to do is change the way we raise animals.
I noticed a few comments on Allan's talk discussing methane remissions of animals. By the comments rational what we show stop growing are beans. Animals aren't allowed to flatuate, but humans are?
I'm really excited about oyas. I read about them years ago, but only recently got a hold of any. I used them outdoors in the summer. I would not say they "save" water in the traditional sense, in fact, it seemed I used more, but that may be just because I was more aware of the amount of water I was using. I will say, it is a more efficient way to water and the water that was used went to the plant intended, and not down hill and out to the street. I really like how the weed seeds do not have a chance to sprout because the top layer of soil doesn't get wet. I like that a lot. And I love how healthier the plants were. I plan to order oyas for next year's garden and put the hoses to rest.
As the weather changed, I didn't want the oyas to get frozen in the ground, so I brought them and replanted them in with my larger indoor plants. For the outdoor use, I had come to suspect that gravity was pulling water out of them and I was a little worried, they might leak out onto the floor if used indoors. My indoor pots are large and I don't have trays under them, making watering a tedious affair. I am glad to report, the bottoms are dry. I fill the oyas up once a week, and have no problems. The plants are looking the best they have ever looked. I had gotten away from having indoor plants, in part due to the space issue, and in part, due to the watering issues. Oyas have taken care of the latter, now all I have to do is get the boys to come home and get their "stuff" out of the house and I will have taken care of the former! :-)
Hubby was concerned they would take up too much space in the pot, but the plants don't seem to take issue with that, so I don't think I shall either.