Friday afternoon, however, I drove home from work with the windows down, singing to the radio. The sun was out, the temperature was up, humidity was down. Cool, strong breezes whipped through the air. It’s March in North Carolina, which means my latent but chronic condition is quickly re-activated.
No, I’m not talking about allergies (though their presence is noticed). I’m talking about this gardening bug I can’t seem to get rid of. Warming weather, growing grass, excited birds chasing each other through budding trees…and suddenly my garden plot looks less like a boring brown rectangle and more like a rich bed of opportunity.
This year my disease may be worse than it has been in a while. Does anyone remember this photo from last Thanksgiving?
This was about 200 pounds of composted goat manure that I got—free!—from my favorite Goat Lady, Michele of Bosky Acres Farm. Since November, this nutrient-rich dirt has been percolating away under a generous mulch of dead leaves (some of which I stole off the curb in the neighborhood, hee hee). It’s the first time in several years that I’ve done any serious amendment to our garden soil, and I’m very excited to see the results. My internet research reveals that goat manure is one of the best fertilizers out there—it’s better than cow or horse manure in that it doesn’t even need to be composted to avoid burning plants.
Also for the first time in about five years, I finally remembered to plant things in the right order. Usually, I start with the pea trellis, then the early spring seeds for radishes, carrots and beets. Only then do I remember that I have an irrigation hose that should be buried before all my seeds go in. A couple of years I’ve tried to half-heartedly dig it in between my neatly sown rows, but that doesn’t generally go well. This year, only my winter-planted garlic was in the bed when I remembered the hose. I wasn’t really excited at the prospect of winding the fussy, curled hose up and back the length of the garden while trying to get it underground, but I gave myself permission to take it slowly, and leave it undone overnight if need be.
I stopped to take this picture about 2/3 of the way through. I stopped a lot during this project. I started it Saturday afternoon, and spent most of Sunday finishing it. The hose must be over 30 feet long, and even though I was digging in soft, crumbly dirt, digging is still hard, all-body work. Thank goodness I wasn’t trying to lay it down in our native clay!
Even as I wondered if I’d ever finish this job, I was quite happy about what I was digging up—rich, dark, moist soil and earthworms everywhere. I don’t know if they were in the manure, or just attracted to it, but I have never seen so many worms in any of our beds. I used another of my frequent breaks to email Michele and thank her for her gift of goat poop—“It’s enough to make a girl giddy,” I told her.
Now, if we have another growing season like last year’s, this hose may be a waste of time and effort. I’m hoping to use it only for “emergency” watering, during long dry spells. Otherwise I plan to use water from our water barrel against the house. But if we have yet another drought, my soaker hose will allow me to get the water right to the roots of my suffering plants. Not only does this cut back on water loss through surface evaporation, but avoiding wetting the leaves is good for preventing the spread of diseases.
Another reason I’m glad to have this hose in place is that I may not be able to stick to my water barrel plan. Once the barrel is less than half-full, the water pressure drops to the point that I can’t use a hose with it, and carrying watering cans back and forth is time-consuming. At this point, I’m scheduled to be teaching from the beginning of April through September, so it’s very likely I’ll be neglecting the garden pretty badly this year. The weeds are almost certain to get out of control, but at least I can keep my plants alive by turning on the hose in the morning while I get ready for work. That’s a lot easier than slogging a water can in my dress slacks (and yes, I’ve done that more than a few times)!
Unfortunately, wrapping up this chore doesn’t give you the satisfaction of being able to step back and admire your handiwork…because now it’s invisible!
Here’s an approximation of where the hose runs—I used the white row markers to keep track of it as I buried it (sometimes I impress even myself with my forethought).
You probably noticed I planted something besides hose today. The green plants in the front are broccoli. They came in a pack of nine, and I seriously considered buying more—but 18 is a little ridiculous. These guys get really big!
Of course, now I’m too tired to dig in the pea trellis and plant those other seeds. But I’ve gone back to last year’s “OMG, It’s Spring!” posts and figure I can wait another week without losing any growing time. As silly and self-indulgent as a blog may be, it sure is nice to have a record to look back to.
Anyway, I did finish up another little project that is a bit more satisfying to admire. This one is on our front stoop.
Those are geraniums in the back and a low-grower called Candytuft in the front. I’m not sure if the geraniums can handle the heat that brick wall will be giving off this summer (our door faces west, with no shade, ugh), but we’ve had Candytuft in our beds before and it did just fine. I couldn’t pass up those bright pink flowers with the darker pink centers—I hope they prosper.
Now I have to turn my attention inside, and straighten out the neglected house. Because as I type this, Miss Chef is on her way home! For good!
Update: The Farmers' Almanac is predicting a hotter and drier than normal July through September. So I'm very glad to have that hose in place.