Saturday, June 25, 2011

Slow Labour, Good Results

We arrived in Gillams to temperatures around 45F/7C, grey skies and gusting winds. It was a bit of shock after sweating it out in New York the previous weeks. It seemed amazing that the leaves were nearly out on the trees and flowers were blooming. The cycle of nature will continue ceaselessly despite a refusal to advance into summer on the part of the weather, or so it seems.

Then the sun came out yesterday afternoon. I tossed my To-Do list for the dyeing/spinning workshop aside and dove into my garden. Well, first I had to find my garden.

Here is a bed that I have reclaimed from the weeds. Doesn't look like much? Check out the other three beds and then get back to me.

Over the winter, I put down plastic over the beds and, for as long as the weather permitted, I dumped our kitchen compost under the plastic. When we left in March, I peeked under the plastic and nothing had decomposed - it looked exactly like it did the day I put it there. This has changed. Everything is beautifully decomposed and the soil is gorgeous, or it is gorgeous once the weeds are pulled. As you can see, the weeds won't be stopped by flimsy plastic. It is slow work but it is good work.

I have been reading Gardening at the Dragon's Gate by Wendy Johnson. She was the head gardener at Green Gulch for three decades and she has a lot to share about living with your garden - getting your hands dirty in the soil and in your life. Her chapter on compost is incredible. I feel newly inspired to be more systematic about my composting and quite humbled before this miracle of life and death. It is a beautiful book and I highly recommend it.

Of course, she is gardening in California, which is a far cry from Newfoundland. We will never have vast fields of diverse vegetables and fruits. Her point, however, is that the gardener needs to become intimate with the soil, with the garden. Instead of fighting reality and bemoaning the fact that we will never, ever grow a watermelon in Newfoundland, we need to embrace what we have and embrace it completely.

It is the only way to garden.

Chives with strawberries in bloom behind.

A little visitor to the strawberry patch.

Reclaiming the yard is a process. A slow process.

1 comment:

E said...

Why not try several layers of cardboard and maybe straw if you can get it? No need to remove come spring and smothers weeds at least as well as plastic. You could also add lawn clipping from your yard.