How Does Your Garden Grow?

            I added ten square meters to the garden this year. Slowly but surely, the lawn mower is being retooled as a small tractor, and a harvester of compost materials. I once had the better part of an acre to mow out here, and now it’s down to less than a quarter of that size.

            The biggest area is that I simply let go back to the wild. It’s full of weeds and small trees now, in its second year of being left alone. In five years or so, trees will begin their ascension to the sky, and their shade will remove any vestige of the sparse grass that rarely grew well there.

            The compost pile is beginning to churn now. Days are longer, sunlight is more, heat builds deep inside the mound of vegetation, and the process that takes plants and produces soil continues. Even on the coldest days I can dig down into the mound, turn it so the process has its oxygen, and find warmth, steaming, smelling of rich nutrients and life, still doing what it has always done and will always do.

            Inside this compost pile is a metropolis of nature, a bustling city of production and tight living, with predators and prey, yet with each and every creature contributing to the size and function of the place they all call home. Plants arrive, coffee grounds, leaves from the yard, grass clippings, and cow manure are the infrastructure. Water from the drip hoses seeps in and the sun provides heat. Microbes break down the vegetation, their waste is a big part of the soil, and earthworms move in as well. Tiny creatures burrow into the compost, to keep warm, to feed, and to breed. Toads, frogs, centipedes, and a host of predators come to the buffet. Birds and snakes arrive as well. The water from the drip hose draws in the thirsty.

            One morning I was turning the pile, keeping the moisture level even throughout, bringing oxygen into the depths, making sure everything was getting all it needed, when I noticed the toads hopping around. At first, I thought the trio might be displaced, and fleeing in panic, but they we running to, not from. As I turned the compost, insects, termites, bugs, all matter of toad food was on the move, and the toads were there for the feast.

            All year long, in the cold and dark months, in the bright and busy months, the process of life churns. The compost I didn’t put into the garden is the basis, the fuel, of this year’s compost creation. Moisture, warmth, and oxygen turns plants into compost. This happens when I am awake and tending to the pile, and it happens when I sleep. It’s happening now, in the darkness and chill, as I write about it. The City of Decay never sleeps.

            A handful of my compost reveals all. How much moisture, how far has it broken down leaves and grass, what does it smell like, what are the pieces I can see, and tell what is, what does it feel like against flesh, and somehow, I know this is good soil. My plants will grow. There will be vegetables to eat, and their vines and bushes will return to the Earth again, and again, and again.

This is how it was always meant to be.

Take Care,


Of The Sun

Somewhere, in a past so distant that the human brain cannot comprehend the matter, some tiny and insignificant organism was exposed by the tide, yet survived, for being a tidal creature, it could more handle a drier environment. It needed moisture, and when the tide returned again, it was saved from desiccation. Over millions of years, the descendants of the tiny would-be land creature grew more and more tolerant of being away from the sea, and plants were born.

The sun knew nothing of this, knowing nothing of something so tiny as the earth, so far away that its gravitational pull would capture it, but not be affected in any great way. The sun spun on  away to wherever it would be guided, the earth spun around the sun, millions and millions and millions of trips around and around. Billions of creatures lived and died, dinosaurs rose and fell, species evolved or went extinct, and finally, in a space of time so incredibly tiny, so minute as to not be noticed by anything capable of notice, I arrived, and you did, too.

Here are some photos of the nearest star, captured in a moment, the descendants of the first land plant growing around us. To me, and perhaps to you too, the Live Oaks are giants, and perhaps, to them, we are but flashes of life, brief, dangerous, yet temporary.

The morning starts cold, the sun trekking Her way towards the north now, longer days, yet not warmer, not yet. The light slashes through the darkness, feeding the trees, giving heat to the earth, brightening the sky, and I am there to see this, as I am wont to do, very early to greet the sun.

In some way, every living creature is kin to all others, to the first, to the last, to all who were and all who are, and all who will be. The sun spins, spiraling to a tune that lives inside us, too, as we make our way to wherever it is we go.

I greet the sun early, as I am wont to do. The light of the day begins like a liquid, flowing into the spaces it can, then overflowing to the rest of the earth, and into the sky. I greet you too, fellow beings, kin of the first creatures, survivors of your spins around the star nearest to us all.

Enjoy your day, of light and warmth if you have it, and if you do not, may the next spin of the earth, bring you a moment in the sun.

Take Care,


The Bent Tree

Can you see the nest?

I have eighty percent of a hectare out here at Hickory Head, and even though it’s a tiny thing, I try to do as much good, and as little harm, as I can. Twenty years ago or so, when I moved out here, the deer ate most of the young saplings in the woods, and the wild grape vines had taken over most of the back acre. I fenced it all in, introduced two dogs with some size to them, and nature gave me trees. I had to keep the wild vines cut back every year and that’s some work, but at the same time, it is trees. 

Last year, I found a downed branch that had landed on a Live Oak sapling, and bent it down to the ground. I picked the branch up but the Live Oak stayed bent, and it seemed impossible to help it. But if it died it died, and if it lived it lived, so I tried to help. I took a piece of an old water hose and tied it back kinda straight. Over the space of a few months, I kept pulling it up straighter and straighter, wondering all the while if it would recover. 

It’s been a busy year, and I haven’t had time to check on it in a few months now. So this is what I found: Not only is the Live Oak standing tall and looking good, but there was a bird’s nest in it, from this spring, likely. I knew the Cardinals had a next somewhere out in this part of the woods, but I had no idea it might be this tree. 

If you save it, they will come. 

Rescue a tree today, and for years to come, you’ll be thanked for it, in ways that you might not have ever imagined. 

Take Care,