About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Perfect Planting Day

In years past I have grown a lousy garden. But it wasn’t entirely my fault, though I seem to lack a green thumb. My soil was hard packed, weeds crept in from every angle, trees blocked out the sunlight, and I had no big tools to help me. This year John abolished my excuses. He cut about six hickories which blocked the morning sunlight and tilled the soil until it turned like soft packed brown sugar. My garden beds are weed free, rock free, and bright. The sunlit soil is rich from years of leaves, organic mulch, accumulating on the forest floor. If my garden does not flourish this year I have only myself and the weather to blame. Until recently the weather has been against me.
Before I could really start planting those awful April floods began. As soon as the last chance for a late frost had passed, the rain began and it didn’t lift until May. The saturated soil refused to hold more liquid so flooding began. I felt fortunate to live on a mountain top. Still, even up here the earth would not accept my seeds and everything I had planted early washed away or drowned.
However, today was the perfect planting day. The mud had begun to regain its composure but still held moisture. I put everything in the ground today, all at once. I started with peas because that is the first thing I always plant, but in March, not May. So before I put them in the ground I soaked them for about 48 hours, letting them sprout a bit. (That tip came to me from the awesome book Carla Emery's Old Fashion Recipe Book: An Encyclopedia of Country Living.) Hopefully this will give them a jump start and they can beat the heat that kills them off every summer.
Then I leap to cucumbers, lining them up along a fence with the peas. I erected a simple tee-pee type trellis and planted pole beans and squash below it. In the center of the garden, I set tomato starts into the dark earth. Beets, collards, kale, chard, and sunflowers also began their lives on this beautiful day. As I worked, an indigo bunting serenaded me with its lovely melody. 
A little ways from the garden, along the edge if the driveway, I formed a flower bed. Zane followed me out to it and I gave him a three pronged hand-tool. He dug the prepared surface. Then I let him take as few seeds from my pouch. I told him to "Sprinkle, sprinkle." He did just that while chanting "spky, spky." Then Zane scratched the seeded soil again to burry the flowers. Finally, we gave the ground little "pat, pats." It amazes me how natural gardening is to a child.  
Once I had finished putting all my seeds in the ground, the sun subsided and rain clouds moved in. As the day came to a close I didn’t have to water my freshly planted beds, the sky showered them, just enough but not too much. I have hope for my garden this year.

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