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Imbolc in the Garden

In the southern hemisphere, we are about to turn the corner into Spring.  We are about to pass the point on the bell curve when the rate of change in day length begins increasing exponentially.  The season of short days is about to end!

You can see why these dates are traditionally celebrated all over the world.  It is easy to miss the signs.  It is still cold and, although the mornings and evenings have been getting longer ever since the solstice over a month ago, it has been at such a slow rate, it’s easy to believe we’re still in the depths of winter.

But once anything exponential gets a go on, it goes at such a rate.  Before we know it now it will be already too late to start thinking spring. Imbolc is the signal that, deep underground in the quiet and dark, unseen and easily dismissed, spring is already stirring.

It’s already too late for pruning the early plum.  Just this week it burst into bloom. But this weekend I really really must get around to pruning the grape vines.  The wet spring last year caused fungus diseases and a really bad year for grapes.  I had planned to give them a very severe pruning this year, and burn the prunings before spring.  And time is running out.

This weekend I really must also get around to mulching up the asparagus.  Very soon now the first shoots of spring will appear, and if I haven’t got around to mulching it will be too late and I’ll miss the asparagus harvest.

This weekend I also have to get around to checking my supply of spring seeds – tomatoes and capsicums and chilis and eggplants and beans and zucchini and squash and cucumbers  and tomatillos and okra – and get out the seed catalogues. Already only just enough time to order.  I also need to get around to mulching up the strawberries (which already have flowers) and making a new batch of seedraising mix.  It’s time to get frugal with the wood ash – not too many more wood stove days left. I should have enough compost left to last until the first of the summer piles is ready but I need to gather it all up to stop the playboy turkeys taking shortcuts on mound building by moving in on my compost.

And it’s a good opportunity to use the momentum of the season to look at the seeds of new plots and dreams and hopes we have secretly germinating in our lives, and dare to give them some attention.  And for that I shall need a cake to take for the potluck morning tea and some bread to go with the stone soup lunch.

A busy weekend, in the best possible way.


{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Frogdancer July 31, 2011, 9:18 am

    thank you !

  • Nikki July 31, 2011, 11:27 am

    Love this post. Yes, seeing the strong signs of spring here too. My plum is looking very similar to yours and I’ve noticed a lot of new life all around the garden.

    How do you use your wood ash? I am always mixed on where and how much and how often. We still have a good two months of fires left, so I tend to have a good stash all year round.

  • Linda July 31, 2011, 2:01 pm

    Hi Nikki, I like to add some wood ash to my potting mix to bring the Ph up, for just about everything but especially for peas and beans that don’t really like too much acidity in their soil. I add about a bucket of wood ash to four buckets of compost and four of creek gravel as a general mix, then a bit more for peas and beans. And I like to give a bucketful every week to the chooks to dust bath in. They love it and I think it helps keep them lice-free. Since I have the chooks in what will be a garden bed, they spread it round and scratch it into the soil at the same time. It will depend on the acidity of your soil to begin with. I have quite acid soil so if a bed hasn’t had chooks on it for a while, I will give most things some compost at planting out and mix a few handfuls into every bucket of compost I use.

  • Nikki July 31, 2011, 6:01 pm

    Thanks for that Linda. I suspect I have quite acidic soil going on the dock and creeping buttercup I have growing prolificly. Will start adding more ash. Great idea about putting some for the chickens to bath in – will add some to their favourite patch.

  • kim July 31, 2011, 7:28 pm

    Lovely spring planning, Linda. I love this time of year, as the warmer weather comes , you can just imagine the spring garden bursting with the things you are dreaming of planting. Lovely post with lots of spring dreams.

  • Anne Heath August 1, 2011, 7:58 am

    I was most suprised to see the asparagus peeking through in my garden the other day! Today it really feels like spring here, it is going to be 21 degrees a week ago it was barely 6 all day. Lots to do before everything really starts growing again!

  • Jason Dingley August 2, 2011, 1:21 pm

    Arrr! sorry small panic. Thank you so much for reminding me to prune my grape vine. The reason for my procrastination is that I don’t know how to do it. I am wanting to espalier it up a central post (2 meters tall) then out to both side along a wire. Last year it grew up and only to one side. What should I do, cut it near the base or cut it at the T junction? And does it matter how you cut it? If a photo helps let me know. I am very excited about spring all the infrastructure for your mandala designed garden is in place and ready to go.

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