Good Bye to Pokeberry Hill...


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Diggin' in the Dirt...

Yesterday I was out in morning and went down the hill to clear more of the tangled mess near our stream. I worked about an hour with Mojo's 'help' and ended up making it possible to get a view of two particularly large boulders that are part of the bank on the other side of the stream. We've been clearing little bits of this area at a time as well as other areas, choosing which trees to allow to live, which to chop down or prune, and inspecting the areas to see what comes up as Spring advances.

This time I found quite a few baby dogwood trees! That was very encouraging! I hope that in time there will be more of those and less of the scrubby looking cedars, also more of the beautiful pines and the redbuds and the jessamine vine and less prickly briars. I found a little violet plant growing in the crotch of a very gnarly old tree. It is a tree we've left near the stream although it is nearly dead and has grown into almost a pretzel. We just like the looks of it. Perhaps someday a little grandchild will climb on it?

I ended up with a pile of things that need burning and a large armful of vines that I will be using in my daughter's wedding after I strip off the leaves and soak them in water with a little bit of bleach. The wedding arch will not need much more vine on it, but I am going to create some table decorations from vines too.

Our grapes and plum tree arrived from Johnson nursery. I ordered Catawba grapes. They were discovered on the side of the river that is near us about a hundred years ago--they may be native grapes or may be an accidental cross with some European variety. Our post office is actually in Catawba so it seemed fitting. Catawba grapes can be used for eating at the table, making raisins, jams, jellies or wines, even a sparkling champagne style wine. The catawba variety also makes a good rootstock for grafting other vines to make them more suitable to this particular area's climate. We began this year with 4 small vines. I know that isn't exactly a vineyard, but in time...
I also got one self-pollinating plum tree sapling. We were trying to be careful with money this spring. Perhaps in the fall or next spring we can expand our vineyard and orchard more. We shall see...

My backyard nursery is coming along too. This morning so far I potted up 10 small shrubs that I had plopped into a bed last fall. They are from cuttings I took before we moved here. I have plenty more to pot up, my back is a bit sore though so I am going about it slowly. I want to put them in pots so I can move them about to keep them safe from the heat of summer and also because we'll be doing some excavating in a couple weeks and I don't want them to be in the way.

I have a wonderful sedum someone gave me a few clumps of when we moved to Charlotte. I think it is called sedum confusion. It makes pretty round mounds and gets yellow flowers. It tolerates heat very well and has multiplied so much that I am using it all over the place to fill in beds and pretty up the garden and yard. Wonderful stuff!
I've got several of those I'm moving about this spring and I think I may have to pot some up as well to possibly try selling next year. Small bits in a 1/2 gallon recycled nursery pot should have plenty of new growth by next year. If I keep my nursery plants near where I must water other things they will be sure to be well tended. If our pond idea pans out well-then I can even use the pond for watering--which if it does indeed have some koi or some other fish in it--well all the better! Nothing is better than fish water for plants.

Well so I have been digging in the dirt. its good for me. I've also been pulling or pinching or shoveling or hoeing baby oak trees up. Last fall we had a deluge of acorns here. I don't think this happens every year, but it was 'the big one' for acorn here. They rooted all over the place and I've been removing them all over the place. I've made good use of the leaves from fall to mulch, mix with soil and build large piles that will hopefully become oak leaf mold. The acorns are pesky and I shovel them off paths because they are also slippery.

What is it that is good though about digging in the dirt and weeding and such like? There is more to it than just making the garden prettier or more productive--it has a tremendous emotional, mental and spiritual value. I don't know how many times I've taken my worst problems to the garden and ended up leaving with perhaps a sore back or hands, somewhat dirty and perhaps in need of a good shower--but feeling so much lighter in my soul that I could never imagine giving up the habit of gardening.

I know in the Bible it says that working the land was a curse for sin--that Adam was cursed to work by the sweat of his brow to feed his wife and children. God caused the lovely garden to produce brambles and weeds and all those pesky things like aphids I suppose and various diseases of plants.. but I think God has always been merciful to his people. Even in the curse there was a great solace. To work the ground is to work the mind as well. To straighten the paths in the heart and make room for peace and contentment in spots that were too tangled up for a light to get near them.

Yup, it never fails to amaze me how much diggin the dirt soothes my soul as well as putting my garden in better order.

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same. Something about feeling that dirt in your hands makes the gardening so much more personal and the food taste all the better. Have a great day...