Saturday, February 23, 2008

Master Gardeners -- Don't Look!

Part three:
Came out today to find that birds had picked up my garden’s moss pathway and tossed it hither and yon… apparently they thought my plan was to provide them with a soft green 7-11 for their fast breakfast. With the new digging, the garden looked a little battle-weary, but now it really looks like chaos! Or maybe just a preview of the tossed salads I’ll be getting out of it….

The veggie garden does look fairly unusual (the same way that New York City is “a little crowded”) but I have my pile of excuses ready: to my gardening friends, I can say I’m using materials at hand; to my new age friends, I’m working with nature energies; to other poets, I’m getting a poem from the experience; to my spiritual friends, I’m making a meditation path; to my artist friends I invoke the name of Andrew Goldsworthy; and to any kids who come by (if they even need to ask - most don’t), I just say I’m having fun. And I am -- as long as the bottle of ibuprofen holds out.

In deference to my back, I have been doing the spading/digging in small batches ( a few clods at a time), alternating with activities that let me stand up (or fall over, depending how late in the day it is…). And in deference to my artist sensibility (now that is an oxymoron -- never met a sensible artist, don’t believe I ever will…), I have arranged the veggies around the circles so that there’s a variety of heights, colors, etc. Oh, I can’t wait until Summer -- I’m sure once everything is blooming, I’ll be telling my friends, "I didn’t do this -- the birds must have dropped seeds at random!” But meanwhile, I’m digging what seems like arbitrary areas of the garden to plant the early veggies… my neighbor seems to think I’m digging for treasure… he offered to lend me his metal detector.

But I’ve got a master plan: a scale drawing with plantings drawn in different colors for the months. And I’ve got a sketch of how I think it will look mid-summer… and I’ve got images downloaded from nursery catalogs that I can Photoshop into my photos for family, just in case…

This past week, I’ve even moved into actual planting, which -- considering it’s still February -- shows a lot of hope on my part, I think you’ll agree… and the garden gives me ample opportunity to recycle that fir tree: I’ve been using the straightest tree limbs as long poles to allow the early peas to climb, with cotton trellis net that I found under the old shed, a bit torn, but still good for draping. Which is why the garden now looks like a shipwreck mysteriously transported an hour from the coast. Even the straightest limbs have an organic “curl” to them, making the pea tripods like upended ships' prows sticking out of my new beds… in a moment of whimsy (maybe sniffing too much Miracle Gro), I’ve even hung a couple of tiny bells on the tops of the poles on that lightweight crochet ribbon that creates garments that look like they started out at GoodWill… from the look of the moss paths, I don’t think I’m scaring off any birds, but they sound nice when I stumble and lurch into the poles…

And speaking of birds, I already know that they seem to adore digging up peas just as they are sprouting -- the damn nearsighted robins think they’re worms! So when I ran out of the cotton net, I drove to the fabric store for something else - preferably cheap. What I found in the back was the ballerina tulle, used to raise those adorable little skirts with the stiff netting underskirts. It was only 99 cents/yard -- cheaper than the floating row cover that the garden stores love to sell… And it came in wild and crazy colors! I had a sudden vision of my garden covered in lovely circles and squares of aqua, lemon, rose, plum -- how could I resist? I got the aqua and bright yellow to start… as the saleslady was cutting, I mentioned it was for my garden. She didn’t even blink; she nodded and said, “Yup. We sell a lot of this stuff for the garden. In fact, once the raspberries and blueberries and cherries are started, we run out.” Wow - have I ever moved to the right town! Creative people everywhere, draping their trees in red, blue, orange -- I am now really looking forward to fruit season!

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