The Dirt on Nicky


What I did on my snowcation

Because I could not go to Nunavut, it kindly came to me. Two below when I awoke with ice on every tree.

I need better gloves. Mine are Arkansas-grade, and three degrees mid-afternoon is a different circumstance. I can’t tell much difference between five degrees and none degrees, and my fingers get bitter cold either way.

So, the last frost is forecast to be two months from now, seed orders are arriving and the high on Monday was 3°. Even anxious gardeners who want to get brassicas and spinach in the ground early might as well take a snowcation this week. Musicians sometimes take a break from playing, yet the music inside continues. The art of gardening is the same.

Here is a sample of my gardening activities during our ice-a-rama frozen-ground snowcation.

  • I thumbed through my seed inventory because it won’t hurt to dream (I’ll have the best arugula in the universe) while waiting for Nunavut to go home (nothing personal) so Arkansas can thaw. Plus one of my seeds’ orders just arrived, and I intend to discover goji berries. I ordered black goji berries because they apparently are more nutritious than red goji berries. I wonder, though, if more nutritious matters much if the less nutritious one is full of nutrition. One of them is really, really nutritious, and the other is really, really yippee nutritious. If I get a banner black goji berry crop, my hair might turn curly again.
  • Also in the seed order were two exotic cherry-type tomatoes, one of which was advertised as very prolific. Experienced gardeners know that all cherry tomato varieties are prolific, so I wonder what kind of technicolor I got myself into.
  • I also ordered new flower varieties, including milkweed, because flashes of color in the garden are invigorating to the senses and beneficial for butterflies and bees.
  • I tuned my mandolin, and guess who was waiting for me… Darling Corey and Old Joe Clark, two experienced gardeners.
  • Even though I already ordered seeds, I still perused seed catalogs because I can’t help myself and unexpected places are where you learn things, such as I learned there is a totally white parthenocarpic 10-inch Asian cucumber, but maybe you knew that already. I found a purple variety of almost every vegetable except watermelons. On another level, in studying seed catalogs a gardener finds discipline deep inside oneself or else you’ll order purple things from all of them.
  • I was going to sharpen my shears, but it was four degrees and snowing, so why not wait until we climb back to freezing. Nobody is pruning right now.
  • I pretended to almost sort of have a garden plan but not really. It was not a well-conceived, articulated plan but a cursory rough draft of a thought, which is important because if you don’t have a plan, how will you know if you don’t fail?
  • I suddenly remembered Masanobu Fukuoka, author of One Straw Revolution, in which he advocated “do-nothing farming.” Gardening to Fukuoka was not just about growing vegetables but about cultivating a spiritual connection with the natural processes already in place. His five principles were 1) tilling is unnecessary; 2) fertilizing in unnecessary, including preparing compost; 3) no need to weed and don’t disturb the soil; 4) don’t use herbicides or pesticides; 5) don’t prune fruit trees.

I am not at that spiritual level yet. I shovel leaves and mulch into soil because I enjoy shoveling as a way of connecting with the past and future of the soil in that particular bed since I am the caretaker and it seems like a good idea. I also consider making compost a sacred duty because I want nothing to be wasted. Yet, I’m open. It’s time to read about the no-till Fukuoka way, so I ordered his book. There might be a gardening revolution in 10-14 business days.

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