Sunday, September 16, 2007

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

You know your body is going to hurt by the end of the day when your gardening tool of choice necessity turns out to be a heavy pickax.

Let me explain.

We have an odd backwards-L-shaped lot. Our garage and garden shed are situated along the line between the two sections, and the rest of the side section is a huge parking lot extra-wide driveway. Between the vast wasted space in that area, the good sun, and the lack of dogs to pee on my veggies, I decided that it was a great spot to put my garden.

Round 1 was to dig up the area that's not officially part of the driveway because it's to the side of the garage, behind the garden shed, and everything we put there did very well. My plans for the spring were to redo the whole area into six or eight 4x4 raised beds, to do "square foot gardening," and building and prepping those beds is on my fall to-do list.

I came across some broccoli plants for fall planting and bought some thinking "I can just set up one of the 4x4's and plant these!! It shouldn't take any time at all, since I already have a 4x4 frame built and ready to go!! Ah, the enthusiasm of idiots innocents.

Looking over the site I was certain that the hardest part was simply going to be to hoe out the weeds then hand-till the spot and dig in some well-rotted compost that I was going to swing over and pick up from a horse-owning gardening friend who has way too much compost ready and waiting to be used.


The weeds on that side of the driveway hid the fact that there wasn't just a scattering of gravel there (it had looked like most of the gravel was in front of the garage). There was a good 6-8"+ of very hard-packed gravel. I'm not an expert gardener, but despite the fact that the weeds were clearly loving it, I didn't think the broccoli would be as fond of those conditions.

The gravel-packed dirt just laughed at the shovel. It broke the handle of my favorite hoe. It refused to allow the gardening fork or heavy rake any headway. So out comes the pickax.

What followed was a workout that no one at Gold's Gym could have forced me into. It doesn't sound as much work as it is, but (in stages) I loosened the soil with the pickax to make it possible to shovel it up, then put 1-2 shovelfuls at a time into one of those 1'x2' or so plastic thingies that serve as a base for a group of plants at the garden store, shook and massaged it over the wheelbarrow to separate the gravel (which mostly stayed in) from the dirt (which mostly sifted through), dumped the gravel onto a tarp, repeat repeat repeat until the wheelbarrow was mostly full and I had a large pile of gravel (both substances being about equal in builk). I then took the gravel over to spread in sparse areas of the driveway that are supposed to have gravel, dumped the dirt from the wheelbarrow onto a second tarp, and repeated THAT cycle probably 10-12 times.

When I started, my plan to get out all the gravel. About 1/4 of the way through I figured I'd be satisfied with most of it. As I was nearing the end of what I accomplished I decided that 6" was deep enough no matter how much gravel was left.

Of course, what comes out must go back in. At this point, going to the horse farm to get compost wasn't going to happen, so I put in about half the dirt, mixed the other half with a bag of fine chicken-scratched (and chicken pooped) leaf mulch that I had left over from the main garden bed, and put that back in.

I then couldn't find my hand spade. I couldn't find ANY of my hand spades. After 20 minutes of looking, and an aborted attempt to just poke holes with a pointed 2x2, I finally found an old rusted bent cheapo spade in a basket of my granddaughter's old play-in-the-sand toys that would just freakin' have to do. I got my broccoli planted and managed to summon the energy to put my tools away.

Oh and then since Von's still out of commission with a post-surgical hand, I then cooked dinner, washed the day's dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, de-ribbed the kale I bought today at he local produce market, did two loads of wash, and took a shower.

My body HURTS.

And if my friendly neighborhood rabbit decides that broccoli shoots are the best thing going, that little fucker's going to be introduced to Julia Child. Actually, I think one of my Jacques P├ępin cookbooks has a section with full-color photo-illustrated very detailed step-by-step instructions for skinning a rabbit. I've always avoided it before, but under those circumstances I'd open it with pleasure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a reporter in New York for a newspaper and some of your posts fit perfectly into a story I'm working on. I would love to set up a time to talk with you this week and I can be reached at 212-416-4184. Look forward to hearing from you and really appreciate the help.