Monday, April 7, 2008

Apparently "No-Till" Doesn't Mean "No-Rake"

Yesterday, I started several seedlings--tomatoes, peas, eggplant, green beans, peppers, kohlrabi, spinach, and strawberry spinach. You can see my setup at left--I'm using the Jiffy pellets and trays. I also have a grow light I bought on clearance at Blaine's Farm & Fleet on the left, and a seedlings warming mat underneath the tray on the right (also courtesy of Farm & Fleet clearance). The little green Post-It tags tell me what variety I planted, and each row is a variety. On the right, I have two rows of some varieties; hence the separated tags. I trade off the seedlings trays so each day one of them gets "sun." And yes, I planted 48 tomato plants (6 of each variety). I'm a bit of a tomato nut. I just cannot eat the plastic tomatoes from the store.

So today, when I got home from work, I was feeling antsy to look at the garden mess left over from last year. Oh. my. God. I forgot that I hadn't even taken the tomato cages down! We also have a million thousand too frackin' many trees in our yard, so we get inundated with leaves. Since I'm going to begin my composting endeavor this year (no sense in not trying to learn how to do everything at once, of course), you might think that the sea of leaves in our yard would be a good thing.

You would be wrong.

Apparently, black walnut leaves are poison to plants, horses,, at least according to the article "Black Walnut Toxicity to Plants, Humans and Horses." The article does suggest that black walnut leaves may be composted separately and tested for safety by trying to grow some tomato plants in it, but I'm not too keen about eating tomatoes grown in poison. If YOU want to try it, go right ahead--I'll be glad to supply you with leaves, but you have to come get them. And rake them up. And bag them.

[Pictured: last year's garden plot, which runs from the chair at left to where the grass weeds show on the right. The garden extends about a yard short of the fence, which is barely visible in the back. The trees mark the fence line. Notice how the leaves seem to cling only to the garden and not the lawn.]

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