green thumbs & cold bones

The sun came out for part of the day on Saturday.  And despite the still mostly-overcast sky and cold temperature I got a kind of daylight religion and hatched a plan to get outside.

I took the sandwich sized Ziplock baggie from my dresser, the one I put all my loose change into, up to the coin-counting machine at the supermarket across the street.  $70 dollars later and I had a gift card to the local  hardware superstore.  This coin-conversion process always feels like “free money” to me.  Or at least infinitely more spendable money, I suppose.  I drove up the road to the hardware store (we live in the thick of it, I tell you) and made my purchases: new fill materials for the garden, a few large plastic planter pots, some grape vine starters, some blueberry starters.  Yeah… free project money for a half-sunny day.

Back at home I worked a long strip of rocky dirt above our current planter box.  All the recent rain made for light work loosening things up a bit and removing the largest of the upturned rocks.  I dug four holes about seven feet apart and planted the grape starters in a row.  A couple different table varieties, for eating, not winemaking.  With the earth so soft I went ahead and used the breaker-bar to dig holes for the trellis wire posts on either end of my new grape row.  I didn’t string wires yet as there’s no vine growth from the wood at this point, but I made it easy enough to do once (and if) the things take on the hillside.  I’m going to put a small set of steps near the corner of the yard by the garden box so it’s easier to step up onto the hill behind the retaining wall and care for the plants.  I was pretty proud at my use of space.

I filled two of the plastic planter buckets with equal parts peat, vermiculite, and compost.  Watered them down good and put the blueberries in to start.  I put them in the backyard on the porch to either side of the sliding glass doors.  Near enough that I can easily tap into the drip lines that run to the planters under the windows there but I didn’t actually hook up the water yet as it’s rainy enough now and I was getting cold down to the bone being outside so long.  I put the other planter over by the existing garden box and filled it with the same mix.  In this I’ll plant random small things like herbs or whatnot, maybe flowers to bring pollinators, but for now I’m trying garlic.

Lastly I pulled out all the dead and decaying vegetable matter from the garden box itself.  Stuffed it into the green waste bin and gave the box a raking to turn the dirt over.  Since my fill material is nearly two-thirds organic I have to refresh it quite a bit after every growing season.  I didn’t fill the thing back up and work it around though, because I’m not ready to plant yet and there’s no reason for the bed to be super fertile and ready if I’m not using it.  It’ll just be a destination for weeds and I don’t need that.

Man it was a good day working outside.  Sunday muscles were sore from pitching the breaker-bar and dragging the rake and hefting 50lbs bags of compost.  My grip was all off and I could feel all those tendons or strings or strands of tissue ache as I flexed my hands into fists.  I like that feeling; makes me feel like I did something productive.

Now it’s a waiting game.  The fruit is always the payoff.


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