Back To the Day We Have

Let's play dirty.

The potatoes are growing like crazy. Pete says I dumped two full bags of soil into the potato towers in two weeks, but I’m not so sure. I think it might have been more. Today, we picked up another big bag of flower and vegetable soil and after he dumped it into the wheelbarrow Pete read the part of the bag that said it contained manure. “Wear gloves and wash your hands often,” he said. At the time, I was holding a bucket of goo I’d pulled out of the composter and wondering if those weren’t good instructions for me, you know, generally.

One: Before

I tried a couple of different ways to take these pictures so the height of the leaves above the level of the soil might be more visible, but you might just have to believe me. Some garden store soils feel dense as you shovel them out of the bag but that’s often moisture. The soil often compacts overnight or after a good rain, so while the plants are growing the soil also shrinks back. This has been driving me bats.

One: After

This is the same potato tower after the addition of a metric assload of soil mixed with compost plus some shredded leaves. Into the four potato towers I ended up adding about half the bag of soil, raising the height of the soil about five inches.

Two: Before

The last brand of garden soil we used turned out to be a lot more water than it at first appeared. I was having a lot of trouble reaching down into the bag on the ground, grabbing about a cup of soil, dropping it carefully into a tower and repeating the process forty or fifty times; I started to dread remounding the potatoes. Today, I asked Pete to dump the garden soil into the wheelbarrow rather than leave it in the bag. The wheelbarrow offers the distinct advantage of being just below hip height on me, and the mobility didn’t hurt either.

Two: After

The experiment with the potatoes has delivered a lesson daily. Yesterday’s was that potato-growing success might truly kick my ass. Today: we could use twice as much compost as we generate, perhaps more. The answer might be to get the tenant next door her own composter from which we draw more organic material. In the news: events too large, too terrible and too far away for me to act upon directly. Sometimes, the best I can do is shovel shit and banana peels.

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