Happy Earth Day

It’s been a pretty quiet week for me. The weather has improved to the point that I can think about my new garden again, and circumstances (namely an injured foot/ankle) have helped me come to the conclusion that a whole lot of digging just isn’t going to get done anytime soon. With that in mind, I’m now looking at putting in a few small raised beds and trying the intensive route ala “Square Foot Gardening” using lots of mulch to give me some instant soil fertility.

I’m modifying the SFG model a bit by not lining the bottoms of the beds with either plywood or landscaping fabric. Doing that seems to make SFG nothing more that container gardening on steroids, which probably works fine for a lot of people but not me. I am planning on removing the sod underneath the beds, forking up the soil to improve drainage and tilth (a little bit, I know), then putting down a layer or two of cardboard to act as a temporary weed/grass barrier, and then put the bed in as normal. The cardboard will break down eventually and allow the plant roots to get into the soil underneath. The beds will be a mix of SFG and sheet mulching I guess. Some instant fertility along with the ability to improve the underlying soil over time.

I celebrated Earth Day by sneaking out in the early morning and planting a few hops rhizomes in the back yard before the rain comes. If everything goes well I should have both Cascade and Kent Goldings hops available in small amounts by the end of summer, with larger crops to come next year.

My act of restraint in not buying a new spading fork paid off today when my brother-in-law called me and told me he found my old one in his garage. It’s a very sturdy fork, so I’m glad to have it back. I just wish the handle was longer, for it wrecks my back after I use it.

On the economics front, there’s been a whole lot of media cheerleading about the Dow nearing 13,000 like this is some big achievement. Just for fun, go to the Minneapolis Fed’s inflation calculator and run the numbers for the Dow’s high water mark in 2000 just before the stock market bubble blew. At that time, the market hit 11,723. Plugging in the numbers now and seeing what inflation in the last seven years have done, just to get back to that level the Dow will have to hit 13,130 or so. The NASDAQ would have to hit 6100 or more to get back to it’s 2000 highs. With inflation running at close to 12% (in terms of M3 money growth, not necessarily prices), I’m sure we’ll hit those benchmarks soon enough, though in terms of actual value they’ll mean a whole lot less.

I’m also seeing billboards up where the local banks are offing (relatively) high interest rates on new savings accounts. One bank is willing to offer 4.75% interest on any savings account with $100,000 or more in it. So, if you’re willing to put a big chunk of cash into that bank, they do you the favor of watering down your money slightly slower than they do to the proles who can only afford a few thousand or less. This speaks to the lack of economic insight and education that plagues the country today.

I’ve been reading up on gardening and permaculture recently and have been thinking about more responsible use of water. The Dervaes family over at Path to Freedom have been worrying about the lack of rainfall in Southern California this winter and what it will do to their plans for avoiding city water use at all for their urban farmstead. Likewise, the current drought in Australia is getting longer and nastier, with the government looking to cut off irrigation water to farmers in the Murray-Darling river basin to save for urban residents’ needs. Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul.

I’m going to purchase a few rain barrels as I get the funds to do so, though they’ll be of limited use until I get some gutters installed on my roof, which probably won’t be until next year at the earliest. I have been taking water use for granted, and the time is coming when I won’t be able to do so anymore. I’ll be very curious to see what the PTF folks do, since they are in a much more precarious situation than I am based on their geographic location.

That’s it for now. I’ve identified a few more small gardening/landscaping projects I’m going to work on this year after the veggie garden is in. More details about that another time.

Hope your Earth Day is a good one… or at least better than my neighbor who is rushing trying to get his lawn fertilizer down before the thunderstorms come rolling in, and the rain is starting to come down right now.

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