Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Putting in a new garden bed

I'm putting in a new raised bed. Last fall, mom and I built a very nice bed in the front yard which I promptly filled with a bunch of crap I dug out of the compost pile rather than buying soil.

I'm morally opposed to buying soil.

Instead, I MAKE soil. Often out of improbable things...

Leaves? Certainly.
Used tissues? Yep.
Orange and other peels? Der.
Twigs? Unwisely, yes.
Jeans? Sometimes.
Opossums? I have.
XXX XXXXXX (redacted due to potential health code violations)? Yes, but don't tell the neighbors.

All this comes together, with some deftly applied rainwater and tincture of time to create...well, dirt: the matter that makes up the part of the planet we interact with. I believe, and would argue, that this makes me an earth mother.

It's nice dirt, too. And I'm not saying that just because I'm its mother. It's nice dirt -- rich, giving, a haven for organisms both uni- and multi-cellular, varied and fascinating, and continually changing. It's real earth, like, you would be so happy to turn over the sod and find it healthy and happy and ready to please. And it's amazing to make it on a regular basis, and I make a lot of it.


Concurrently, I also am creating more and more growing spaces around the house. This year, I have decided to put in a full 16 feet of prime tomato real estate along the wire fence on the east side of the house. I took out a bunch of sod...

...put down a digestible weed-blocker (which was actually the cotton cover my mom made for the futon she gave us...the cover that Luckey-Haskins ruined in the months of litter angst that followed our move)...

...and started layering in whatever I could find. This method of soil-creation is called "Lasagna Gardening" because of the layers of compostables, paper, cardboard, and whatever, that you neatly stack together. The strata break down and become a garden bed over time. I started the lasagna with newspaper, which is recommended, and then a layer of the bolted collards I'd just pulled out of the other lasagna bed in the front.

I also layered in a bunch of half-rotted stuff from Fall clean up. Unfortunately, we'd taken down a bunch of trees and all I'd managed to do is snip the twigs into 3" bits which matted together into an unmovable mass which broke my pitchfork.

I don't mind the twigs, really. They'll break down like all the rest of it. Besides which, I am way into this new/old permaculture gardening practice called hegelkulture, which is the creation of garden beds over a mound of rotting wood debris. I figure any wood will work, even if it's the trunk of our Christmas tree (the branches long since stripped for mulch):

You just keep layering. Tossing in the box and paper that carried your raised bed corners. and digging deeper into your partially-rotted compost...

...until you hopefully run into this fine, fat specimen. That's a Bic pen next to it, and stretched out, he's probably 7 inches long. As I dig down, I go through strata of different worm species. I find these guys at the bottom, where it's always wet and cold. I move him, then, with the rest of his more-active neighbors, to a bed that is sunny and hot. I hope he was able to make his way down, down, down to where it's always cool and always moist. Perhaps he found solace snuggled against the cotton futon cover.

I think he's a Flobber Worm.