Farmer Firesmith

            I am happy. The last couple of days working on the garden has produced a harvest of good emotions and achieved goals. Soil from the Compost Complex has been hauled to the garden, and it’s as good as I might have hoped. Deep dark, black, moisture holding, organic dirt, made entirely of eggshells, banana peels, apple cores, vegetable kitchen waste, yard clippings, and leaves. It’s beautiful. And I had enough to fill the expanded spaces in the garden.

            The expanded space is just another ten meters square, but now I know I can produce that much compost, and still have enough left over to kick off next year’s expansion. What I am doing, the way I am doing it, is working the way I want it to work.

            Someone recommended using cardboard under the compost to kill the grass I extended over, and this is my first time trying it. I raided a dollar stores dumpster for enough cardboard, and removed all the plastic tape from the sides. The cinder block border went on top of this cardboard, and then I fill the new spaces with compost, hauling load after load with my garden wagon.

            The surface of the garden is still a little lumpy, but raking will even it out, and next year’s crop of compost will add another couple of inches to the whole garden, or at least that is the plan right now. That’s next year, however, and I still have this growing season to provide me with work enough.

            Foolishly, perhaps, I planted six pepper plants. Three Carolina Reapers, and three Georgia Flames. They are my experiment, and maybe my sacrifices, to the Gods of Weather. Have I planted too early? We will see. There is something primal, elemental, and entirely human about digging in the earth with your hands, taking a young plant and carefully placing it into the ground, and creating a new home for it. My soul yearns for these moments of beginning nearly as much as harvest, for in planting we say we believe in the future, we believe we will do well, we believe the Weather Gods, the insects, the random armadillos, squirrels and rabbits, will not defeat us. We are promising the young plants we will water, feed, weed, and love. We are promising ourselves that we will care, from now until harvest, and beyond.

            Tomatoes, yes. Always tomatoes. Forever, tomatoes. Large and small, vines and plants, yes. Squash, for mom, perhaps grown vertically this year, for I think it will work. Okra, for soup, yes, and hot peppers. Zinnias for the pollinators, and because I like them.  Mom’s mother, my grandma, grew Zinnias, and I will, too. Marigolds to frighten pests away, a fence with a charger, new irrigation, and then one day planting will be done and tending will begin anew.

            There is much to be done, even now, preparing the old part of the garden for the new season, raking and leveling and digging out sticks and old stems, but that is work for tomorrow, or the next day. The heavy lifting is done, the new garden ready, baptized in sweat.

            Today, friends will come over and share a meal, and food must be prepared. I must clean my nails for there is dirt there, and I must rest a bit, too. But from now until there is frost again, and the plants return to the earth, I will walk in the garden, pull weeds, and watch over the dirt, and all the grows in it.

Take Care,


Blocks and Bushes

Back when I started a tiny six by eight garden over ten years ago, the timbers that were shoring up the ditch in the back yard seemed a good idea. Then when I expanded the garden this year, so about twenty by fifteen, I used all the timber I could find, and still needed some cinder blocks to fill in the gaps. The real problem was the timbers were in terrible shape, and honestly, they needed to go.

Doug, my good friend and master electrician, said he might know someone with cinder blocks for free, but bring an axe.

And away we went. It took us a while to locate the blocks because they were deep in the brush, but I brought a bush hook, and some insect repellent, and went in.

I’m five foot ten. And it’s amazing we had problems finding a stack of blocks that were higher than I am tall, but I cut a path, and the removal of the blocks began.

Once we got the forty-five blocks loaded, I trudged them back to the garden, started digging up and removing the timbers, and realized I had no idea what to do with the timbers once I removed them. Part of the garden, the original section, the timbers were deep in the ground, and infested with fire ants. But once again, friends save the day! My friend Mark came over and offered to haul them off for me.

The garden is now enclosed in cinder blocks, as the plot expands each year, this is going to be easier than moving timbers, and the ants will be easier to control.

But here’s the cool part. After we loaded all the blocks, I put two more in, just in case. This is what we had left.

Good planning and good friends save the day! Now I have to work towards a great harvest so I can shall the fruits of my labor with those who helped make it possible.

Take Care,