Mud Season

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

“The old is dying and the new cannot be born.” –Antonio Gramsci

Mud season is making me cranky and stupid and lethargic. And there seems to be some crankiness in the zeitgeist, too, if my Facebook page and Twitter feed are any guide — and Yves’s monitor dying fits right in here — but I’m not sure why, since it’s not mud season everywhere; perhaps it’s the after-effects of tax day. Or perhaps it’s all the whining the money men had to do over the past couple of weeks to keep borrowing money for nothing, back when everybody was worried about some sort of “take off.”

Anyhow, mud season is, so far as I know, a New England thing. The ground freezes deeply in winter, and thaws in the spring from the surface down. But until the ground is completely thawed, snow melt and rain can’t percolate all the way down into the soil, and so remain on the surface, puddling and pooling and creating mud and ruts and slop and a general air of discouragement and disarray. It’s better, of course, to look up at the trees and see the buds against the sky, but looking up still doesn’t seem quite natural, after having walked hunched over in the dark for so many months, bearing the burden of February to come, or February, or February not quite having been thrown off, even now, with the wood stove inactive.

Of course, I don’t live in the woods, so there aren’t any ruts where I am. Mud season, to me, looks like this:


Sand from the plows, along with a big hunk of tar from the road thrown up by the blade. Nice! (Happily, the town does not use salt.) What an enticing prospect! Of course, intellectually I know that the rain will wash this detritus away, and in any case sand lightens up my clayish soil, and soon I will have sown this discouraging area with wildflowers, and soon the pollinators will appear, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way now.

What does “soon” mean? By tradition and bitter experience, planting before Memorial Day is a bad idea, and that’s — let me break out my day-to-day calculator, here — 36 days away. Hmm. Memorial Day comes early this year, I guess; since this is the second week in May, I would have thought it was six weeks. Well, I still reserve the right to be cranky!

So, I thought I would put up two permaculture videos, and comment on them. I should say I’ve come to realize I’m a bad permaculturalist, or at least an out-of-band one — my primary goal for my garden is not yield, or self-sufficiency, since I give my vegetables away, but “the augmentation of the complexity and intensity of the field of intelligent life,” so that I can sit happily at my worktable in the midst of all the buzzing and blooming confusion and and write, or take pictures. Of course, when there’s no water in California two years from now, and the food riots begin, or the trucks stop, I may change my plans and focus on yield once more, but for now, my goal is pure pleasure. And why not?

So here is the first video. It’s not an especially good video, but I find that it touching anyhow, for reasons I’ll explain:

Caveat that the videographer/gardener is in the frame far too much, so in a way the video is an extended selfie. Kids these days! The tats. And the hoodie. But hoodied or not, he “got the OKs for my research” and also has cats. So this old codger is encouraged. But I really picked the video because it’s a walkthrough in a northern climate, and that’s what we do, in mud season: We walk the ground, and visualize how things will go, when spring comes.

…getting ready for a spring work party…

The “work party” is a collective aspect of permaculture that I generally give a miss, I’m not sure why. Probably because organizing such things is work, and I’d rather just putz along.

… soil building….

This guy uses wood chips — I assume from his own trees, so there aren’t any chemicals — but I build soil using sheet mulch; see the video below.

… different hot and cold compost …

Not only am I too lazy for compost, I don’t generate enough food scraps. I prefer to leave the plant matter (“detritus”) where it falls, generally, as green manure — never let organic matter leave the property! — and only monstrosities like quack grass or extremely invasive weeds go in the compost, so my compost is not very good. So, “hot and cold” compost — how very ambitious!

… the goal is not to have to buy soil or soil amendments but just to be building our own soils here …

Yes! Here, however, I’m lazy again; not only do I have the straw for my sheet mulch (see below) delivered from Blue Seal, I buy a few yards of soil as well! To be fair, I am making up for years and years of neglect, and this year I may spread new soil only on new beds, and see how five or six years of sheet mulching have worked out for the existing ones. (I know, I know; I should do a soil test. But I’m lazy.)

… the fruit trees are just beginning to bud…

I think I made a mistake a lot of people make; I started out with a few tomatos, got hooked, and kept expanding, and after several years, branched out into nut trees and shrubs, which will take a few more years to mature. If I had started by planting trees, in the first year, I would be eating filberts by now, assuming the squirrels don’t get them.

… welcome to my new hot house…

It occurs to me, now, that if I had a hot house I’d be growing stuff in it by now and not whining (assuming it wasn’t a lot of work); season extension is big in Maine, and a hot house is one of the main techniques. This particular hot house looks a bit flimsy to me, especially for a Maine winter, but perhaps it is meant to be disassembled? If so, I had better get a more rugged one, because I doubt I’m going to be stirring my stumps to assemble a hot house in February.

… More seed sprouts for building up the guilds, so perennials, different types of flowers, herbs, things that attract beneficial insects…

Now I’m talking myself into this hot house thing. Flats at the farmers market are cheap and don’t involve work, but guilds are plants that offer each other mutual support (like the famous “three sisters”: Corn, beans, and squash) and it’s likely one would have to assemble the guilds one’s self.

…. the kitty blocker screen… cat nip ….

I had a cat living under the porch after the skunk was induced to leave, and part of me would like a “barn cat” (as we call them in Maine). However, my project this year is to attract more birds, because I like birdsong — and maybe birds will eat bugs, even Japanese beetles?! — and I think those two goals are incompatible. Sigh. (The “kitty blocker” is a screen placed over a pot so the cat doesn’t think it’s a litter box.)

… I made this hugel bed and that’s going to have watermelons in it …

A hugel bed is “pretty much nothing more than buried wood,” which rots, making very rich soil. I had very good luck growing tomatoes in a hugel bed last year; I made the bed out of wood detritus from the couple of cords of firewood I brought in, and then covered it with some extra stone dust and a layer of dead leaves; I’m going to build a second hugel bed this year, in my best sunny spot, though I’m not sure what I’ll put there yet; tomatoes again, probably.

… had to net it against both the deer and the cats…

For whatever reason, the deer have only nibbled round the edges of my garden; last year I got shiny strips that blew in the breeze, reminding the deer, who don’t see well, of dangerous edged weapons or possibly gunstocks, and scaring them away; that was my theory, anyhow!

… wild onion is native to Washington but it’s also really good at keeping deer at bay…

I’ll try anything!

… this Asian pear tree is loaded with blooms…

So far ahead of me! I wonder when the forsythia will come out… Forsythia, lilacs, iris, roses….

* * *

And this is the second video, on sheet mulching. Sheet mulching is the gateway drug to permaculture, and I highly recommend it.

(The guy, IMNSHO, makes one mistake: He steps on the soil, and even runs a wheelbarrow over it. Never scar the soil by compacting it!)

When I sheet mulch, my approach is simpler, cheaper, and lazier. Lest you feel intimidated by the diagram, I use only three layers because I’m cheap and lazy: At the bottom, compost or earth, then newspaper, and then on top, after soaking the newspaper, straw (and not hay; hay has seeds, and you don’t want them. You want your own seeds). Then I punch holes through the sheet mulch for the seedlings.) Sheet mulch is great for these reasons:

1. Very little weeding. The newspaper serves as a light block, so weeds don’t sprout. (I do have a problem with quack grass where the plants have been punched in, because the soil is exposed, but generally weeds are easy to pull out of a sheet mulched bed when they do grow, because the soil is so soft.)

2. Very little watering. I was away for the month of July, which was very dry, and the tomato beds weren’t watered at all. I came back, and they are as you see [very healthy]. The straw captures any rain that falls, the newspaper lets it soak through to the soil, and the newspaper also prevents evaporation.

3. Less disease. Molds and spores and TMV live in the soil, and the sheet mulch prevents them from infecting the plants through the leaves. When I didn’t sheet mulch, and watered, the plants would get infected from splashed bare soil, and by this time [August], two or three tiers of leaves would be yellow or even blackening (depending on which mold attacked them).

4. Lazier staking. Tomatoes that touch or rest on the soil are goners. Not so with tomatoes that rest on clean dry straw (though if it rains, raise them up or pick them!)

5. Better soil. A lot of the improvement is due to the compost, the leaves, and the soil amendment. However, worms also like sheet mulch because the soil is not compacted. Worms also like darkness and moisture, which the newspaper layer provides. Further, over a season, the new mulch will settle, and open up an air gap between the soil and the newspaper. Just as in your house, the air gap insulates, and so the soil temperature doesn’t fluctuate so much. So, the worms aerate the soil and also leave their lovely nutritious worm castings. (If I were more ambitious, I’d be doing vermiculture.)

So, less work, better soil, improved work — what’s not to like?

And sheet mulch is a great way to get rid of your lawn, too. Surely you don’t want to waste your time cutting the grass!

Makes me less cranky, just thinking about it! How is your garden doing?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. ambrit

    Hmmm. It’s the second week of May where you live? Y’all up North have Zeepsday too?
    We grow herbs for the superior outcomes they produce in Phyls’ cooking. Home grown vegetables are better all around too. Just from a health perspective, do put in some veggies. Your taste buds will thank you for it, and you’ll improve your all around well being. An added bonus is that you’ll know exactly what’s in your food, and thus, in you.

      1. ambrit

        It’s from a 1956 story by Gordon R. Dickson. It’s been years, but the premise, the best I can remember, is that near the centre of the galaxy, space time is so warped, there is room for an extra day in the week, Zeepsday. A typical ’50s science fiction idea by one of the better writers of the period. So, to translate that to terrestrial terms, as Mercators map shows, the closer one gets to the poles, the more “stretched out” the earths surface becomes. Since space and time are linked, per Herr Einstein, time stretches out too. The New England states might only have enough “time space dilation” to manage a half of a day extra, hence all those “SADDs” cases the farther north you go. Don’t worry if it all seems far fetched to you. Phil Dick understood, as did Admiral Perry.

        1. Oguk

          One of my favorite, in the collection “Danger – Human”. The overall effect is anthropocentric to be sure, but charming. Reminds me of Frederic Brown…another fave

  2. Santi

    Mud season is not just a New England thing. My girlfriend is from Novosibirsk and she told me to refrain from going there during May for my first visit: then is when their mud season goes on, and things stop being white but are not yet green, everything is dirty and brownish… so she told me. Being from the Mediterranean I’m not familiar with the concept: I’m more for hot and dusty than for muddy seasons…

    I’m now showing her how the Spring goes on in the Guadarrama mountains, where there are things such as jara (bossoming just now) or encinas (a funky oak, leaves have spokes and don’t fall for the winter, we have the rotundifolia variety here).

  3. Judah Ben-Bernanke

    If you want to make a serious dent in your insect populations – especially mosquitoes – build a bat box.

    Some bats will eat their own body weight in mosquitoes every night. And since most bat populations in the Eastern half of North America are threatened by white nose syndrome (a devastating fungal plague that has wiped out entire colonies over the last decade), you’d be doing vulnerable animals a big favour.

    Besides…they’re fricking bats. Bats are cool.

    1. bob

      Hummingbird feeders too. Put it close to a window and its entertainment all day.

      They also eat bugs.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I have done very well with hummingbirds (they love bee balm and now I have two beds of it) but the bat box is a great idea! If I build it, will they come?

    2. different clue

      Purple martin houses might also be good. Purple martins eat by day the mosquitoes the bats didn’t eat by night.

  4. southernman

    Spring is full on in central Appalachia. Redbuds are in full flower; dogwoods have been out a week or two, along with the serviceberries; the blooms of forsythia are giving over to bright green leaves. Saw the first fly of summer two weeks ago. Spent a few days in the deep south and saw some trillium, plus a busy heron rookery; all else was of course further along. Worth a trip early in the year. Greens in the garden now, thought it tends to get hot fast like a slap on the back and just like that the greens wilt or burn up – course, the tomatoes and melons luxuriate in that heat. You can hear them going “ahhhh…….”. Let’s see, the only other thing I can think of is there are some birds heading your way. They stopped in for a bit, cleaned out my feeders, sang a few songs then left. I suppose that was an even deal.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      My forsythia is budded; but the soil is still frozen only four inches down. So can’t really do anything but wait!

      The church ladies may have to postpone the plant sale again this year!

  5. AQ

    Love Sepp Holzer’s work and by extension Paul Wheaton’s at Rich Soil and Permies. I’ve been eyeing theihugel beds for a while but haven’t tried to put them into practice. Requires planning and work and most importantly is kind of a permanent thing unless I’m willing to take it apart and undo my work. Supposed to do more than just tomatoes though. Sepp is a huge proponent of doing massive companion and in a sense free-range planting. Would love to someday visit his farm to see all the technique he’s developed over his career. Supposedly there’s some bone juice that Sepp makes that the deer don’t like although to be fair he is in the mountains of Austria so the deer there might have different taste buds.

    We call Mud Season, Spring Breakup here.

    With climate weirding perhaps planting will come earlier now.

    1. different clue


      With a name like “spring breakup”, are you in the Midwest? Perhaps Great Lakestan specifically?

  6. Steve H.

    Mud season has two primary factors. The first is a deep enough freeze that there is ice preventing soil infiltration after the melt. But what makes it really special is the clay, which gives the mud that special stickiness. The clay can come from settling at the mouth of a river, but around here is terra rosa from weathered limestone. So there is likely a mudseason band in the temperate zones, but in areas like the great plains, where the soil is built from grasslands detritus, is will lack the special character the clay gives it.

    We named the different kinds of mud the way Eskimos name snow. Especially memorable was the ‘mud that goes SchTpuch when you pull the car out of it.’

  7. Faye Carr

    I’ve always wondered how permaculture could possibly work for food production up North. Such a short grow season! A greenhouse is a must have, I’d think.

    We can grow year round here (Gainesville FL) but you have to learn to like OKRA, eggplant, and peppers. As well as appreciate in season eating. We’re building an entire community based on food resilience.

    Here is a video our “parent” organization made of my place:

    1. bob

      The shortest growing seasons overlap with the highest rates of decomposition, in the continental US anyway.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      “building an entire community based on food resilience”

      So you should be all set “when the trucks stop.” Of course, there’s the ocean rise thing….

      1. different clue

        Fortunes will be made on properly guessing how far the sea will rise. “Buy your future beachfront in Arkansas NOW and beat the rush!”

  8. scott

    I’ve found that in warmer climes, mulch ends up being food for pillbugs, who than decide that everything not yet dead is edible. I have planted mustard and peas as a cover twice this spring and have lost both crops (with the exception of a few). I will have to add mulch eventually, but not until it starts to get hot.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Not an expert, and I’ve never seen pillbugs in my straw. That said, IMNHSO insect infestations, like neoliberal infestations, mean that the system has become “simpler than possible,” and some complexity in the form of companion planting, especially of plants that either repel pillbugs, or attract pillbug predators.

      When I have been to Thailand and seen gardens, I very rarely see mulch (this is in central and Southern Thailand). When I talked about water retention, the answer was “water is free.” And as far as soil, perhaps the soil on the river plains is so rich they don’t even have to think about improvements. But it’s very, very odd too see big hot pepper plants growing in cracked soil!

      1. bob

        It depends on the soil and climate. How many farmers fields have you seen mulched?

        They go back and forth on how to plow, again based on the soil and climate. Around here more and more are plowing up the field, then completely leveling the field off. Flat. No “rows”.

        Less surface area, less evaporation, and less area for weeds. Downside is that it can limit the amount of water that the ground will absorb in heavy rain. It just sheets off. But, when it does sheet off, it doesn’t take good soil with it, as it does with big, high rows.

        There’s no one size fits all. If it works, go with it.

      2. McKillop

        According to , the creatures are crustaceans and do gardens more good than harm.
        I started to read NC to learn a bit about economics, but I’ve had the best of times reading it and learning ‘stuff’ that is much more interesting.
        Where I live one of my first vegetable edibles is the fiddlehead. I’ve a number of sites on my land (and along the river but belonging to no body, that I’ve been harvesting for 39 years or so. One of people who I most admire is a man who transplanted wild fiddleheads and grew an agricultural business by doing so. I’ve decided to try transplanting this year, although one of the things I like best about fiddleheads is that they grow abundantly without any effort on my part. Now there’s a lazy man’s crop!

  9. Hyssop

    my primary goal for my garden is not yield, or self-sufficiency, since I give my vegetables away, but “the augmentation of the complexity and intensity of the field of intelligent life,” so that I can sit happily at my worktable in the midst of all the buzzing and blooming confusion and and write, or take pictures

    Oooh, I hear ya! And when you’re not working well or insufficiently concentrated, you can step outside, do something productive in the garden, and then return indoors with a refreshed mind, and get back to work.

    I live in Paris on the ground floor of a building in an apt. that opens onto a big, very sunny courtyard. While I don’t have garden soil in which to plant, you and your readers might be surprised to learn what can be done with plain old pots, containers and wine barrels. Given the summer sun and heat, I’ve been successful in growing a number of varieties of figs [which just so happen to produce more fruit when their roots are restricted – hence perfect for containers], a grape vine, lots of wild strawberries, tomatoes, herbs, and other.

    But the real, ultimate treat are the figs, fully ripened, dripping with sugar, right off the branch. The flavor is enough to knock you off your feet … So, for anyone who may regret not having ground on which to grow food, if you have a sunny courtyard, balcony or even a windowsill, there’s plenty that can be done. [Here’s a good reference: Bountiful Container]

    Merry Spring to all.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I try not to be indoors at all! I bring the laptop out into the middle of things (and maybe this year I’ll build a shelter so I don’t have to worry about rain).

      1. Tsigantes

        I try not to be indoors at all!

        I so understand that! I’m outside from pre-dawn with coffee & laptop amongst the plants & animals :)

        Here in Greece we’re in the last month of green and rain, though not enough rain for mud.

        In May the ground plants will die off into 6 months of brown, dusty soil. A Greek garden consists foremost of trees for shade: pines, olives, citrus, fig, mulberries. Flowering vines in full sun – jasmine, oleander, bougainvillea; potted geraniums in hot spots under the shade canopy, and basil pots on every window ledge against insects. Rosemary and Margaritas (daisies) are large bushes, the last in full bloom now. No more lettuce, roka, dill…no more oranges except the varietals planted for tourists – that’s winter.

        The young nettles started in December…the last of the nettles are 70cm high and seeding. The acanthus is coming into bloom. Right now the last of the wild flowers and chamomile are underfoot, the Carobs are in bloom and orange trees lining Athens’ streets fill the air with perfume. Early June bring the Jacarandas on, and July the mulberries….

        Bees are everywhere I’m glad to say.

  10. petal

    Am in the Mud Season funk, too, Lambert. Everything’s brown and dirty and wet. I don’t reckon it’ll stop until the garden goes in at the end of May. Sending you green and warm thoughts.

  11. Eleanor

    We didn’t have enough snow in the Twin Cities for mud, and we need rain now. I envy your mud.

  12. aletheia33

    have you heard the spring peepers yet? i heard them yesterday, down here in southern vt. for me, the sound that surpasses all other sounds, including even bach. once i hear them, i have no complaints whatsoever. (until next february, that is!)

    also: pansies.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      What the heck is a spring peeper? Frogs? I don’t think we have them, at least not in town. The big sound transition is birds returning and singing in the morning….

        1. McKillop

          The blessed things are mating, or trying to.
          Lambert might hear them if he visits a quiet swamp and himself sits quiet until they start their chants. I know of one particular area where the creatures make as much noise -after too long it is noise- as I’ve heard in ball mills. It’s fun to spook them with a noise and then wait as one, another one, a few more and another few more star in their own romance.

  13. frosty zoom

    “One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize that there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, spring doesn’t feel like spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for autumn, and so on.

    Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June. What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves? Next comes the season called Locking. November and December aren’t winter. They’re Locking. Next comes winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold!

    What comes next? Not spring. ‘Unlocking’ comes next. What else could cruel March and only slightly less cruel April be? March and April are not spring. They’re Unlocking.”

    kurt vonnegut

    1. different clue

      I remember this Vonnegut passage. I thought “locking” and “unlocking” were too obscure and poetic as terms to convey easy meaning. I preferred ( and prefer) “freezeup” and “breakup”.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Oh, good point. I do have a barn, and thanks for the link. (I want birds, people advise bats, and now cats… The NC commentariat is certainly trying to augment “the complexity and intensity of the field of intelligent life,” in this case, mine!

      However, I want birds for their songs, and because they are pretty, but more importantly to eat bugs. And I don’t think having a barn cat is compatible with attracting birds, much as I would love to have a barn cat to deal with any mice in the barn. Now, if it were possible to have a snow-bird barn cat, that moved in during the winter and left in the spring, that might work. But I don’t think I want to manage that.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I don’t believe in feeders. I want them to eat insects or other items from the garden proper. I will optimize a messy hedge for nesting, and a fountain for drinking and cleaning — with a clear space so predators cannot attack — but no feeders. It’s a failure of the whole system if there are feeders.

          1. Vatch

            Birds need food during the winter and early spring. You don’t have to put food in the feeders during the summer or autumn.

          2. sd

            do you have chickens? Allowing them free range in the garden will enable them to eat pests. Plus, you get fresh eggs.

            1. sd

              I can’t seem to paste at the moment. Annoying ipad problem.

              There’s a nice article on birds and farming at Grist. “The Birds and the weeds: a farm conservation story”

  14. ek hornbeck

    Your garden is a wonder and makes me happier every time I see it. I wish you good luck this coming not mud or winter season (or as it’s called in the UP, tough sledding) and ask- have you considered indoor pre-planting?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I have considered indoor pre-planting but (a) it’s work, and I don’t like work, but (b) more pragmatically, I have wild swings of temperature due to the wood stove, and this has always made plants unhappy. So I’m not sure my environment is suitable, though this may change with the completion of the insulation project.

  15. susan the other

    About Lazy. The best tribute to the god of lazy is to stop and pray, Wait a minute, let me think about that one.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      One thing I like about permaculture is that it encourages you to use what comes to hand. So it’s really OK to drop something and pick it up later. Permaculture also encourages you to think about getting the natural world to do the work. So if you want to stop mowing your lawn, then put in something more satisfying and also not a tax on time, like sowing wildflowers. And if you don’t want to till the soil, and who does, create an environment, like sheet mulching, that makes worms happy. And so forth.

  16. Ottawan

    Laziness can turn out to be good, so long as you’re learning. Its easy to be impetuous. I’ve got a helper for my disturbed riparian site who hasn’t understood the old don’t-trample-stuff-especially-during-early-Spring idea. I wish he was lazier…

      1. Ottawan

        I guess I should have explained.

        The Disturbed Riparian is a massive carnivorous plant that only lives on the banks of the Rideau river and its tributaries. It feeds exclusively on the tears of disappointed hockey fans.

  17. nippersdad

    Mud season here too; it has been raining virtually non-stop for two weeks now. Nearly all the Spring blooms are spent with only the late blooming azaleas and mountain laurel left to go, but Spring was quite a show this year!

    It is kind of strange to hear people pining for Spring when I am already dreading Summer.

    Anyway, the beauty of sheet mulching is that you CAN walk on it! Once you get your soil horizons developed, the soil becomes springy and is self aerating for the most part….just don’t drive any trucks over it….

      1. different clue

        Perhaps that big slab of road-asphalt in the first photo could be one of those big flat stones for stepping on. What would we call a permaculture not devoted to food production at this point? A permabeauty garden? A perma joyscape?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Good idea, but it’s petroleum-based, so I don’t want it on my soil. I’m not sure about your other questions; I think maybe the idea should be the two aspect of “culture.”

  18. Rosario

    Unfortunately no garden this year, just moved and the back yard consists of the landlord’s workshop and a concrete sidewalk (front yard is off limits and mostly a gradient). I’m curious if any posters have experience with grapes? The cliche appeal of my Italian heritage calls me to attempt growing a vine someday. I live in Louisville, Kentucky for a geographical reference.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I can’t speak to Kentucky grapes, because Northern grape species are different (needing to be cold tolerant).

      But if it’s grapes for wine you want, maybe you could buy grapes, crush them, and do some wine-making. Wine-making is great fun!

      1. McKillop

        @ Rosario: check out Hyssop’s post of 9:28. He mentions growing grapes, figs, and such in a Parisian courtyard.

        1. Rosario

          Thanks to you both. I’ll be delayed in planting for a couple years but I’ll check out Hyssop’s post. I like the idea of buying the grapes for wine making. Maybe half the fun but I suppose one can make a chair without felling the maple.

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