dsc04107In comparison with the weather prevalent throughout the country, I don’t have much to complain about. Nevertheless, the air is cold and the lawn is soggy. I have been neglectful of my garden. I have now three lasagna beds that I was counting on decomposing in time to grow at least some vegetables this spring. My friends Polly and James, farmers and proprietors of the CSA organic farm Pumpkin Ridge Gardens in the Portland, OR region, gave me some very good advice while they were here with their four teenagers over the holidays.

They examined my efforts, visible in the photo. “Nothing is going to happen unless you get more nitrogen,” was Polly’s verdict. At first, she recommended steer or chicken manure, but, on second thought, she advised me to lay on the chicken manure. It has a higher concentration of nitrogen and will jump-start the decomposition of my lasagna beds. Her prediction was that my first year would be valuable primary for the experience. In a year, I should have spectacularly fertile soil.

And at her urging I am going to start germinating some seeds sooner than I expected. For instance, towards the end of January, I will try inserting the first fava bean seeds in one of the beds. According to the book on lasagna gardens, I needn’t wait until the beds begin to decompose. But I think if I get chicken manure on the beds right away, I may have a chance.

By good fortune, my friends, Dan and Sherry Fields, have mountains of chicken manure mixed with grass hay. Later today I will drive out to their ranch in Fiddletown to collect large plastic bags of the stuff. I doubt I can fit as much manure into my car as the beds will need. But it will be a start. I’ll buy commercial chicken manure to supplement it.

In the next few days, I will lay out the last smaller bed.

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