Saturday i dashed off to the NIA exercise class and met up with my sister. No mother! Turns out Mom went to the beach with Dad. I think the exercise class can be quite the motivation to go off with my dad! After the class my sister and i split up the seed potato order. The seed potato is ordered in increments of one pound, so i ordered six pounds of potatoes, but because we split many of the orders, i've got nine different varieties. (I've another pound of potatoes i forgot to cook that sprouted in the closet.) Sunday i planted some of the earliest potatoes - dark red Norland and purple viking - as well as some of the latest, fingerling style potatoes - purple Peruvian and Rose Finn Apple. To plant the early potatoes i dug a trench fifteen foot long, at least a foot wide (wider in some spots) and probably a foot deep.
Time passes. I started thinking about the depth, realized i'd become somewhat over-enthused with digging, realized i didn't do what i should have (backfilled until it was only six inches deep, speculated that i created a bathtub for the taters to drown in (hard clay, no drainage), speculated that if i tried getting them back out i'd step on them or stab them or otherwise ruin them, and pretty much descended into a spiral of negative thinking.
I went out this morning and looked in. It's fine so far. For the later potatoes, i dug in the beds i established last year for squash and corn. Those beds were nicely done last year thinking ahead to potatoes this year. However, after the experience of last year, where deer ignore potatoes but devour other things, i wanted to border with potatoes. I only planted on the end of those rows and digging down about six inches was a breeze. I've four more pounds of potatoes, and i won't let myself get "out of control" with ditch digging. And i just don't know what i will do about the ones in the deep trench.
The digging on Sunday was hard work, but somehow the burning on Saturday was more miserable and tiring. I think i don't do well with heat and underestimate how hot the fire area was. It was rewarding, though, to clear to the base of a three-trunked tulip poplar. At some point in its youth, the tree was knocked over to a 45 degree angle or so. A sprout came out at the line with the ground and two more just a short distance up the leaning trunk. Most of the leaning trunk died but the three sprouts have grown to maturity. There was a stubby bit of dead wood remaining from the original trunk, all pocked with woodpecker hunting. Christine sawed it off so that the trunk would be a bit more tidy.
Autumn olive gets established at a tree line. Birds sit in trees at the edge, they leave behind seeds from previous meals, and those seeds take root and a row of autumn olive gets established. The first tall shoots bend toward the sun and then shoots form along that trunk, pointing up and those arc towards the sun. Those branches might have more spurs arcing out as the original trunk thickens up to a couple of inches. Meanwhile, seeds have dropped and germinated. Those just beyond the reach of the first line have enough sun to repeat the pattern. Where i find these rows that seem so orderly as to be planted, i know i have found the original clearing lines. We haven't quite made it to the original line of autumn olive, but we made a dent in the second generation on Saturday.
Beyond the first generation the woods clear up a bit -- and then there are apparently random autumn olive to clear in there as well as the native plant that fills the same niche, spicebush. Lindera benzoin is host to the spicebush swallowtail.) But in that first open area i found a near carpet of Star of Bethlehem. Fie.
I do feel called to take this bit of land and restore it. I just didn't realize just how many nonnative plants would be crowding out the natives. I'm trying to also take pleasure in the thought of all the blooms i should fin there later this spring, but i just turn to pouting that it's not a carpet of the smaller native spring beauty. I found one of those last spring in the septic field and tried to transplant it to near the house. I don't know yet if it survived. (Where it had been, heavy equipment was needed to remove the huge tree of heaven near the first turn in the drain field.)
In the early hours this morning it got down to freezing. I hope the little tender tops of the peonies will take that as a "slow down" message. The tulip (or saucer) magnolia's pink blooms might take a hit, but enough have not unfurled. The tree won't be too bedraggled looking.