Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gardening Season Begins!

It's official at our house: gardening season is here.

Of course, this means that it hurts to move right now, because half a day in the garden and I am fully aware of a) how much work it is, and b) how out of shape I am. Never mind, the more work I do, the better it becomes on both counts.

Ryan has begun turning the sod on the remainder of our front lawn, and is finding it more painstaking than he'd remembered, so it's going slower than he'd hoped, but we have genuine progress and I'm really excited about that. The first step is to dig a trench, then we add compost and a handful of fertilizer, and then he replaces the sod, but it's turned upside-down with at least six inches of dirt on top. He does this row by row until the yard is done, working in sections. It's hard going! This worked last year, though, and has many benefits, not least of which is that we don't have to pay to dispose of the "sod." ("Sod" instead of just sod because it's made up of a lot of weeds. This method worked on the equally weedy section on the other side of the walk last year.) It's all done by hand, so it's a good workout (ha!) and it doesn't create greenhouse gases. (Of course, I wouldn't mind if Ryan insisted on the rototiller, but he's insistent that he does it all himself, with just shovels and garden forks and a lot of labor.)

While Ryan was doing this, Tessa and I got busy weeding last year's garden patch, which is just dirt at this time of year. We discovered, though, that the garlic that didn't appear successful last year is thriving now, so we've got garlic in the ground. We separated it and replanted, and we're hoping that our attention didn't kill it. Our neighbor Charlie saw our work and offered us some of his raspberry canes, and we gratefully accepted them, too, and got them in the ground. We cleaned up old dead leaves, cut down an azelea that had died, and then weeded all around it (hmmm wonder if the weeds killed it?!) in preparation for planting flowers in that particular section.

And we worked on our compost - not "just" the worm bins, which we have more or less mastered, but the regular compost bin that sits, neglected, beside the compost. Fortunately for us, it had been neglected long enough to yield a couple of small yard waste bins worth of rich, clean compost in addition to a thick layer of brambles. The brambles were removed and placed in the yard waste where they belonged, and the compost took it's place in the garden.

To be continued....dinner time!

Post dinner...

The compost is strangely exciting to me, because it's another sign that I'm getting it. I'm trying to create the full circle (without waste) of food production, and the compost is comprised of lots of food scraps (and leaves etc.) that are being returned to the earth. This is how it seems like it is supposed to be. Instead of food bits being taken away by big trucks, they are being returned to the earth. The soil in the garden bed from last year looks rich and dark, and though we used commercial compost last year I can start to see how this all comes together. The earth is lush and loose, dark and sweet.

If I can get excited about soil, I can get excited about anything, I suppose. But I feel like I'm reconnecting with the earth, and with parts of nature. I'm working with nature, not against it, and I feel my place on the earth just a little bit more.

I put pansies (my Grandma Goddard's favorite flower) in pots on the porch, and tomorrow I hope to plant some veggies and flower seeds suitable for "early spring planting." We are not past the danger of frost - as evidenced by this morning's white crystals - but some things go well in the ground before frost.

I haven't mapped out the whole garden yet, but I will. Like the Obamas, I'm planting nasturcium and zinna borders, and I'll add in some marigolds, and some other things. I loved our sunflowers last year (though I placed them horribly; I'll do a better job of that this year). Our bulbs from years gone past are coming up; the crocuses are fading, the few remaining daffodils are bobbing their tight yellow heads, and the tulips are leafing. The lavendar looks old and solid, and I can't wait to inhale its scent. (And this year I'm going to dry some, too.)

Fertilize the lawn, cut back the ferns, learn about rhodie care (ours are looking sad)....

Spring must really be here. Hurrah!

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