Back Forty

d-oh! chalk one up for the learning curve

Today, I busted my behind in my garden. It was a gorgeous day. I will pay for this tomorrow.

It didn’t start out so hot. I went to the farmer’s market, with money this time, and a couple of the organic farmers had a few spring plants for sale. I bought two Salem rosemaries to replace my recently deceased ones, who I believe were another type. These should survive our winters. I bought one flat-leaf parsley because I’m tired of trying to get them to grow by seed. I have had widely varying results, and I use a lot of parsley. It was $3 which I thought was high, but then I realized that it was not one plant, it was a bunch of seedlings growing all together. I bought three oriental poppies that he said were perennials. And I bought one broccoli plant. I felt kind of like a guy who goes fishing and stops at the fish market on the way home. But so far so good.

Anyway, I started talking to one of the guys about organic gardening, and he told me that using composted cow manure is not organic, even if it says organic on the bag. You know, if I had thought about this for two minutes, knowing what I do about feedlots, cattle production, and product labeling, I would have known this. I am kicking myself because here I thought I’d been organic for three years, and now I’m not–even this year is down the drain for organic because I have dumped cow manure everywhere. And he gave me advice on what to use, but he can’t tell me where in Guilford County to get it. Without owning my own truck or paying $140 for delivery, that is. He thinks Guilford County gives compost away, and I do not think so. Then he tells me to talk to the broccoli guy, who doesn’t know right off hand either. Apparently they produce their own compost. The broccoli guy advises me to use fish emulsion on my sad little broccoli seedlings, which I already have from last year but just couldn’t bear thinking about the smell being in the house.

So I went to Lowes and looked over everything and looked closely at the packaging. I need lots of soil to build up the beds and the organic compost was $4 for a 40 lb. bag. I just can’t afford that so I bought 5 bags of “organic” humus at about $1.50 a bag and 2 bags of this new stuff that Miracle-Gro is marketing for organic gardeners at $4 a bag. And it seems legit because I looked at the ingredients. Unless the chicken manure is full of antibiotics. Oh, shit. I bought it to put in my containers, then when I got home, it said quite clearly on the bag “not to be used in containers.” Why? I don’t understand. I’m going to use it anyway.

I came home and got right to work in the garden. Sandy was doing his Redcoat thing at the Guilford Courthouse battle re-enactment. I usually do too, but I’m tired of it. That’s another story. So that meant I had to do all the heavy lifting, which is okay, because I used to work in very physical jobs. But I’m out of shape now.

I got about 20 little parsley seedlings out of that one parsley plant! If three of them survive, I’ll be happy. And I planted lots of seeds – carrots, beets, chard, spinach, sorrel, two kinds of lettuce. (Note to self – I didn’t plant to the right or front of the red table.) I mixed up fish emulsion and bottom watered my indoor seedlings and poured the rest on my outdoor beds. Here’s hoping that Mama Kitty or a raccoon doesn’t dig everything up – that’s the other reason I stopped using the fish emulsion. Mama Kitty thinks that I do all this for her pooping pleasure anyway. I have to be vigilant to remove her little deposits all the time. So I put all the wire tomato cages and screens I could find over my seed beds to try to deter the animals. And I turned my little compost pile that never seems to grow. And I moved around my stepping stones until I had something that pleased me.


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