Temperatures got up to the low 50s today after a month of snow. I checked the cold frames and harvested spinach, lettuce, and arugula plants. Cool.
I read William Alexandar's book 52 Loaves and am now making bread to his recipes. My goal is to bake a loaf each week until March (36 loaves?) Score so far: 3 mediocre boules, 1 inedible "Pain au Levain Miche", and 4 outstanding "Baguette a lAncienne".
I'm also going to try to make a pot of soup each week until spring.
Houseplants and orchids are getting cut and dusted with root hormone. I took hardwood cuttings of my native spicebush, virbinum, and chokecherry. I dug seeds out of last year's pumpkins. The books say its really simple but everything seems to be dying in slow motion. Its fun but I have no idea if its going to work.
The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is pleased to announce the winners in its first annual Backyard Conservation Awards Program. Matthew Newell of Fishers and Linda Lange of Carmel tied for first place in the individual homeowner category. Amy and Thad Perry of Fishers took second place in that class while St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Carmel won first place in the non-profit organization category. (read the entire article)
Took water samples and then tests on our Retention Pond, my adopted stream, and Geist Reservoir. Things looked pretty good in all categories: very clear water, almost 100% oxygen saturation, good pH, almost no nitrates/nitrites, and light phosphate. I think the cool weather keeps clarity good (less algae), and oxygen high. Not much fertilizer or erosion runoff this time of year either. The most interesting observation was that the stream temperature was much warmer than the reservoir or pond.
The evening before the snow hit, I overseeded my lawn with 50 pounds of drought tolerant, shade tolerant, slower growing, and less nutrient needy red fescue. The seeding practice called winter sowing and the idea is to let nature do the heavy lifting: the freeze scores the seed, snowfall presses it into earth, freeze/thaw agitates the soil, and spring thaw keeps things moist. Sure beats renting seeding equipment, twice daily watering, and cover straw. Wonder if it will work?
2010 yard cleanup is complete. Major difference this year was in leaf management: I mowed most of the leaves into the grass (Purdue best practice recommendation), loaded up a compost bin stall with shredded leaves so I can keep building the pile all winter, and used a lot for mulching small plants, bed marking, and winterizing my vegetable beds.
On Thanksgiving eve we drove to Washington DC.
Highlights: The Mall lawn looks worse than mine, the National Botanical Gardens greenhouse is incredible and the outside area has a wonderful native section, and Teddy Roosevelt's Island is now my favorite president monument. Very appropriate for our conservation president.