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.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Gardening within City Limits

Though I now live within the Fayetteville city limits, I have plenty of nature in my back yard. In fact, I see more wildlife in my yard than I ever did hiking through the wilderness. My house is located between the base of Mount Sequoia and the hills that stretch out around Dead Horse Mountain. Beside my lot is a huge five acre parcel that is completely wooded and undeveloped with a small creek flowing through it. Making the area a corridor between the two mountains, a trail between habitats. The yard itself is a third of an acre, mostly flat and sunny. Other than a mature post oak, the only trees are fruit trees. Therefore, it is ideal for gardening.
We poked around on the west side of the yard for weeks because we thought it was an old garden plot. But the topsoil was shallow and red clay lay beneath. Then we began digging into  the opposite side of the yard, out among the grassy lawn. We found, to our surprise, that the untouched lawn area had better soil. So John got out the tiller and went to work. Tilling the earth brought a smile of satisfaction to his face.

After tilling the first bed twice, picking out a few small rocks, and mixing in some compost, I went to work planting. I also added some sidewalk soil. Much of the sidewalk in front of our house was completely covered with rotting leaves and good rich dirt. (This is where worms and rolly polly bugs love to party!) I shoveled this soil off the sidewalk and right into my garden. I bought a few tomato and pepper starts since I was too late in the season to start those from seed. The rest I tucking into the earth with care and watered heavily since we have had a complete lack of rain this spring. Before I had even finished planting the first bed, John was onto the next bed, tilling until dark, until his heart was content.
Once the first sprouts had poked up through the dirt, I went to my uncle George's farm and got some old hay that was too musty for his cows to eat. I used to hay to mulch the pathways and the around the plants. Hay mulch holds in moisture, adds nutrients as it breaks down, and creates a weed barrier all at once!

Lately, with the midnight thunderstorms, my garden in florishing. The tomato plants have a few green fruits, the zuccinni squash is putting on flowers, bean and peppers are blooming, fresh basil leaves is already garnishing our plates, and the sunflower stalks grow a few inches every night! I got a late start this year, the the dry weather slowed everything down, but it looks like I will have a fantastic harvest soon!

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