Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Monday, March 25, 2013


   This time, it was done by hand.
   The fields lie fallow this year. No tractor will cross, no plow will sink, no disc will dice. It’s this time of year we plow. Wait for a sunny day in March, when the soil is kind of dry, and turn the fields you want for cabbage, lettuce and broccoli. Row after row, the soil turns over onto he row that was plowed before it. Worms squiggle around underground now above ground. Spiders scurry out of the way. Crows follow, looking for grubs. Turn the tractor around and plow another row.
   The grass around the fields is really starting to green up. The trees are just starting to bud. The sound of the motor fills your ears. The smoke from the exhaust fills your lungs and coats your clothes. You might finish by dark.
   This year I’m only going to have a small kitchen garden behind the house. That’s it. I turned two rows yesterday, by hand, with a spade fork. The rhythm was similar to plowing. The fork goes into the soil, foot drives it deeper, and turn. Fork goes into the soil, foot drives it deeper, and turn. The same worms are revealed. The same spiders scurry out of the way.
   You’re on the ground already, though. You can get right down onto the ground and look at what’s there.
   I’m turning the first few rows behind the house, and I’m not even turning the full length of the fields. I’ve got a few mini-rows on the south sides of the fields. They’re just for me and my dinner. I have no plans to fill the back of the truck with boxes of produce, no hopes to stack the market table high with the harvest of the fields. I’m taking this year off. I’m a nurseryman. I have only greenhouses; I grow only potted plants.
   The schedule is reasonable. I get all my work done, on time, on schedule. I have time to enjoy the Spring. I have time to enjoy my neighbors. The spade fork needs no maintenance. I need no diesel. I finish work before dark. I eat dinner. It’s growing on me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring 13

   I mowed the grass yesterday. Over on the North side of the house. It was a bit soupy in spots, but high and dry in others, and the little blade went round and round and  round and sent little grass pieces all over the place. After I was done it looked neat and tidy and smooth. The cut grass smell lingered, just about at nostril level. I imagined tiny bits of chlorophyll hanging in the air. It lasted through dusk and into the frozen darkness. I went out about midnight to check the greenhouse heaters, and the smell was still there. It was still there this morning, also, when I went out to shut off the heaters. It wrapped around me when I walked across the yard, reminding me of spring.
   My first real experience with the dirt smell came about a week ago. I was patching part of a greenhouse wall, and needed to move a rock, and then another, and then needed to pull up a clump of grass. There it was. Rising from the ground like, oh, a groundhog looking for its shadow. The smell of soil in spring. The smell is, not to spoil the image too much, that of rotting micro-organisms, and, as if that were not enough, micro-organism excrement. Be that as it may, it was a welcome smell, the first of the year, signaling that the soil had warmed enough to promote activity amongst the non-see-ables. It had warmed enough to make the soil microbes bounce around and eat and have sex and die. I couldn’t see them, but they signal their existence with their aroma.
   We’re entering the rush of plant season. The greenhouse is filling rapidly. Sunny days find a table set up in the yard, and I start plants. I empty bags of potting soil into buckets, and fill little pots and plug trays. The potting mix is peat and bark, ground up so much you can’t recognize it. The potting mix smell is, to me, the greenhouse smell. I know it doesn’t resemble a beat bog at all, but  I like to think it does. It’s another smell of spring. It stays in its plastic bag all winter, and you can open it up as soon as it starts to warm and pour it into a pot.
   It’s still too early for flowers, though they’re on their way. But there is still plenty in the air to tell your nose that spring is here.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

My Extension Has Not Been Extended

   The robins are fluttering in the snowfall, and so it must be time to order fruit trees.
   The catalogs are coming in the mail, as many different mail order companies as there are varieties of sweet cherries. And, as fitting these modern times, the mail order companies increasingly solicit me through email. Gurney’s, they of the oversized catalog with the yellow cover that doesn’t fit into any file or cardboard box or old milk crate, is emailing me every day. (I admit to be enticed by the Ka-Bluey blueberry and Ruby Monster tomato. I haven’t added them to my cart.) And every day, my anxiety level rises as Gurney’s tells me I have to act now or I won’t get free shipping or I won’t get  $25 off my order of $50 or more or the price of daylilies will go up. The next day my inbox has another warning that if I don’t act now the price of daylilies will go up. The next day I’m about to lose my free shipping. At one point their algorithm figured out that I wasn’t ordering, so they extended their offer of free shipping. A carrot. The next day they threatened to rescind their offer of free shipping. A stick. The subject line: Your Extension Will Not Be Extended.
   I play with the idea of lining the driveway with some pampas grass  for $2.99, or putting a climbing thornless rose against the house at $6.49 each, or shading the house with a Colorado Blue Spruce for $1.99 (3 for $5.50.) I picture myself strolling across the backyard on a warm summer evening and picking the lush fruit from my dwarf peach tree (luscious flavor, self pollinating.)  I want to bake a pie with the harvest from my Montmorency cherry tree (intense, sweet-tart flavor!) What I really do not want is an apple tree with five different varieties of apple grafted onto one trunk. This is not why I garden. I do not want to violate the laws of nature and the laws of logic. I want my extension to be extended.

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