Thursday, April 19, 2007

The joy of dirty hands

I've been wanting to get my hands in the dirt since it started to get warm. This being Colorado, that's been intermittently all winter.

Well, readers, I finally got my chance last Sunday. I'd gone to the CMU Extension to see if their community garden had space; it didn't, but when I asked if they knew about any others in the area, she said 'Yes, there's one, it's organic, and the lady you want to talk to? Is right there.' and pointed to the Master gardener on duty for the day. So Derice the Master gardener and I had a lovely little talk, and last week (was it that recently?) Ray and I went over to Second Start Community Gardens to pick out a couple of plots.

We got two big ones, right next to each other, good soil well-worked by the former residents. We also inherited chives, blackberries, strawberries and a lot of irises. The irises might wind up going to good homes to give us more space, but the rest is staying.

Thus began the planning. What to grow? What varieties? How much could we eat, and were we going to can the rest? Turn it into sauce? What to buy now and plant inside, what to buy now and plant outside, what to wait to pick up later?

I traded some of my bath salts for four tomato plants and five peppers later that day (yay for barter!). Then Sunday, the only day we all have off from work, we hefted our tools, put on hats and sunscreen, and trooped off.

Except for the tools, because we didn't actually have any. But there's a lovely locally-owned garden place, with a wide variety of tools, furniture, statues, fertilizers, and so, so many plants.

We got off fairly lightly, I think, at under a hundred dollars, but: hand tools, kneeling pads, more tomatoes, more peppers, brussels sprouts, four kinds of lettuce seed, five kinds of carrots (including purple ones), basil and more basil, nasturtiums (edible!), leeks, asparagus, and three kinds of onions.

Then off to the garden itself. I learned the proper method of weeding, which doesn't involve pulling out each damn weed with my hands but using tools (because, as Tim says, I have thumbs; use tools!). A properly-wielded hoe and rake make things go much more quickly. So does having other people to work with. I've so rarely had help in the garden before and it was pure joy to work with people.

We got one plot almost entirely weeded, then double-dug a long trench (with well-aged manure mixed in as we dug) and planted the onions, leeks, and asparagus. A lesson learned: those onion starts want more space than it looks like they will; dig another trench right away. As it stands, the onions are all too close together and will have to be thinned, and we had to dig another patch for the asparagus. But we got a lot of stuff in the ground and a good time has had by all.

We also (for a definition of 'we' which means 'Tim' since I was exhausted and Ray was already in bed) also planted lettuce, spinach, and pepper seeds in a little tray that night. I'm not sure but I think some of them are sprouting already

Monday Ray and I were going to go over and do a little more work, but I found that nearly nothing on my body wanted to move without pain and so I spent the day doing a whole lot of not much. And so back to the garden next Sunday, methinks, there to dig and double-dig, mix manure, plant carrots and carrots and carrots oh my. Purple carrots!

I was still cleaning dirt from under my fingernails on Tuesday. My muscles only just stopped aching sometime yesterday. And I am simply as happy as I've been in a long, long time.

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