On President’s Day, as I was finishing lunch, I looked out the window and saw snow! We’ve had practically nothing since Christmas, and now on the day I was finally ready to work in my garden, it decided to snow? I ran outside as fast as I could, determined to get some work done before it got too cold. Half way through, the flurries stopped, and it was just cold. The first step to getting a garden ready is cleaning up from last year. My chickens did most of that for me, when we let them loose on the garden during the winter, but there was a pumpkin vine they didn’t touch and a bunch of those giant prickle weeds, so I grabbed a huge garbage bag and started filling it up. Then I made my way to my smaller boxes and started cleaning those up. They were mostly full of some sort of grassy weed, as I had harvested everything from all but one box last year.
The box that still has food in it is full of carrots, because they over winter beautifully, and since this winter was so mild, I didn’t even have to cover them. I cleared out the grassy weed from this box as well, and fed all of the weed to my chickens. I figure it’s some sort of annoying grain, which chicken’s love, and they’ve been enjoying digging through it. I, also, suspect that this weed helped to insulate my carrots when the temperatures did get cold. So, this weed and I don’t have too bad of relationship, especially considering how easy grass is to pull out of Mel’s Mix.
This weed and I, however, have a very complex relationship. Thistles are considered a noxious weed, which means it’s attempting to take over the planet. No, really it means harmful, poisonous, or very unpleasant. In this case, all three, though it is only mildly poisonous. When they bloom, they’re deathly beautiful, but they kill to even lightly brush up against. Don’t wear flip flops around these things. I’ve been collecting any of the dead flowers I can find, in a probably futile attempt to prevent them from growing in my garden. They’re so hard to get rid of that even digging them out doesn’t stop them from coming back. Once I had a thistle so big that a colony of ants made it their home. That was gross.
After a quick, though not thorough, clean up, I devoted my energy to one box. My chickens used it as a place to dust bathe in, so there was lots of chicken manure and feathers strewn about it. I left them there and hoed them in, while breaking up the Mel’s Mix to make it nice and soft for this year. The dirt was thawed completely, and I wonder if it even froze this year. After about fifteen minutes, the box was ready, except for needing a little compost for added nutrients. I don’t know if my compost pile even did anything this winter, because there wasn’t any snow to insulate it while it rotted. I’ll be checking the bottom of the pile later this week to see if I need to buy some compost or not, and then, I’ll be planting Tom Thumb Peas. I’m very excited to eat them. Combined in a stir fry with the carrots planted last year, it’ll be delicious.