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,