Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dirt is therapeutic

I'm finally feeling hope that we will have a garden. The community garden plots we were assigned are in a fantastic sunny location. It's almost perfect, except that the gardener who had the plots last year (or sometime before that) planted a bunch of mint. I love fresh mint. I crush the leaves and add them to a hot bath, garnish a pretty dessert, make a ginormous batch of tabbouleh, or just run my hands through it and smell the awesomeness. But I don't like growing mint.

The stuff is evil.

It hides behind a disguise of attractive leaves and alluring scent just to spread mercilessly throughout whatever ground space is available. The entire garden plot is a giant mess of massive root systems entangled around one another. Then, the person of last season decided to mulch over the whole thing.

Mulch = good

Not pulling any weeds before mulching = bad

I know the trick though, in Utah I'd do the very same thing. It was such a dry climate that if I cut off the weeds' chance of seeing daylight they'd croak and be easier to pull. Not so here. There is enough moisture and the soil is fertile enough that when Spring arrived I found a massive field of healthy weeds with enormous roots buried under a compressed and saturated mass of leaves. Ick. At least the ground is soft and they are pulled out much more easily than I expected.

I didn't take a before picture, but this is after 3 days of pulling weeds & aerating the leaf mulch, 5 bags of yard debris to the garbage, and trying to barely stay positive about this whole deal.

Honestly, it doesn't look bad there - even to me. I do cry a little over the patches of grass thick enough to be mistaken for the adjacent lawn, but through the mud I see possibility.

And here's where it's at today.

I finally got it to where something can go in the ground, using nothing but a small hand trowel, spade, and my own massive strength. It's almost impossible to tell but there are 7 plants in there now, with more to come soon. I can't believe it's actually plantable! Every time I've walked by it there were another fifty thousand weeds to pull and now all of the sudden with the sun comes possibility.

Every single thing going in the ground was started from seed, so my fingers are crossed for a good outcome! No matter what, it's been so freeing to be able to dig in the dirt and pretend I can make a space a little bit better with my effort. I can picture the kids helping me harvest the produce and my heart runs amok at the adorableness of it all. Let's just hope I don't kill everything.


  1. We have two gardens this year . . . one up by our house, and the other in a community garden box area. (They were asking for volunteers, and only a few of us raised our hands.) The dirt up at my house is so hard that if you want to roto-till it, you have to soak the ground first . . . and I couldn't get hold of the rototiller this year. So I've only planted things in hills in the ground by the house. (Soaking the ground as I dug with my shovel . . .) The garden box is growing green beans and a little Swiss chard, and I intend to plant the rest of it this weekend. (Hopefully everything survives the horrible spring winds . . . the tomato plants are protected by #10 cans, but I didn't have enough cans for all the squash and watermelon seedlings.)

    Good luck!

  2. That looks fantastic! Good work! Eric and I have been digging and weeding ourselves. I built a nice big garden box. It really does feel good to dig in the dirt and make something! Have fun with the garden!


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