LOCAL VIEW –Awaiting the Wet–

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We have a flood watch this morning, which seems slightly absurd as it is so dry I’ve have to risk arrest to burn the dead weeds in my garden. (The trick is to burn small patches, so by the time anyone smells smoke the quick blaze is out, and you are whistling innocently and planting seeds.)

I got 40 feet of spinach planted yesterday. Actually it is 80 feet, as I plant a double row, with the rows around six inches apart. Once the seeds come up I thin the plants so they are four to six inches apart, (using the thinnings in a salad). Then the trick is to make sure the spinach gets lots of water, and lots of nitrogen. I have a nice pile of rotted manure, (which the old-timers called “brown gold”), and top-dress the plants away from the stalks. (If the manure is placed too close to the plants they get overfed and turn yellow.)  What you want is the plants to grow at top speed, before the weather gets hot and they bolt.

After spending around fifty years thinking spinach was loaded with iron, and was good for me, I recently learned it also is loaded with oxalate, which binds with the iron and makes it so your body can’t use it. Therefore I’m simply growing it because I like it.

Anyway, half of the time, when you learn of a new scientific study that shows some nourishing thing isn’t nourishing, you later learn that scientific study was done by someone who benefits if sales of that nourishing thing slump.  Both eggs and milk have spent time on the not-good-for-you list, only to be removed later. It wouldn’t surprise me if the study showing Spinach didn’t supply as much iron as previously thought was done by the Broccoli Growers Association.

One thing that is fairly certain is that the fresher a food is, the more nutritious it is.  You don’t want to pick spinach and leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of days. If possible you want to pick it just before dinner.

I’m also trying to grow some Onions from seed, which I’ve never tried before. Usually I plant little bulbs. I have ten feet of sweet onions and fifteen feet of Spanish onions involved in this experiment.

Usually the soil is muddy in April, but not yesterday. A bit of rain wouldn’t be a bad thing.

One reason for the flood watch is that the rivers and streams are fairly high, despite the drought. This is partly due to the snow-melt, but is also due to something I noticed happens during very cold winters. The level of lakes rises five inches. This occurs simply because the ice gets to be 50 inches thick, and a tenth of an iceberg floats above water, and that lifts the level of the lake a tenth of 50 inches, which is 5 inches. The “top of the water” can be five inches above the level of the outlet, yet not a drop can flow out, as the water is all frozen. As recently as April 1 we were walking on very solid ice on the ponds, but now it has vanished, under sunshine which beats down from the same point in the sky the sun is at in the middle of August. It’s amazing how quickly the ice just fades away, and then the extra five inches of water in the ponds can flow out the outlets, and the creeks and streams and rivers all rise even in a drought.

The snow is gone here, but there is likely more snow left to the north, and up on higher hills, and the weather service wants to cover its butt, when it issues the current flood watch, at a time the soil is getting dry and my seeds could use a bit of rain.


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