Let Go, Let Dirt

It’s raining.  Again.

Blessed, sweet nectar of the sky.

I routinely walk around in it and let the fresh water drip down my face, licking it from my lips. I’m not particularly happy about an unplanned downpour this morning, but I’ll take it anyway. The huge pile of mulch sitting in the driveway must be delivered to the yard before weed season begins. Rain is not helping that to get that chore done.

Right now, the grass green. Peaches are already in full bloom and the creek is filling up once again. It seems a little early for spring but given last year’s blow torch summer, I’m good with it.  It’s refreshing to be actively planning to eat from the yard again.

Our creek during the drought, normally 8 ft deep

Last year, things were much different; it rained only a little in January and it didn’t again for another eleven months. The now infamous Texas Drought of 2011 began well before that, before the December Deep Freeze (also not customary for our area), when it hadn’t really rained since the summer. No rainfall in a typically sub-tropical zone led to catastrophic wild fires and burn bans all along the Texas Gulf Coast.

By the end of the summer of 2011, Houston was two feet below normal rainfall levels and logged 40 straight days in triple-digit temps. Our creek dried up. Trees were dying. All activity in my yard ground to a halt; the Old Timers said it was the worst drought they could recall in their parents’ time.

Being an earth girl, it rocked my world.

Come March — the time seedlings get hardened and ‘put to bed’ — I was deeply concerned at the lack of quenching rain signaling the chore. I did it anyway (seedlings occupied the breakfast room for two months of winter) and futilely hand-watered for the first few weeks. That’s all I could do. They were left to nature and nature was not very kind.

All that time and energy I put into seeding, hardening, prepping,…down the tubes. They all shriveled up and died for lack of rain. My process was all for naught.

“Volunteers” or plants establishing around the compost pile

In just a few weeks’ time, the last of those 100-or-so plants succumbed to the heat and drought.

To my surprise, however, several “volunteers” popped up near the compost bin.

Nature, it seems, taught me a valuable lesson — She knows what She’s doing.

This year, the tiller will stay in the garage. Seeds got direct-sown into a couple of raised beds. The drought may be over judging from the quenchers of late, but I’ll continue garden like there’s one anyway.

Aside from the usual mulching, it’ll be lazy gardening from now on. I’m switching to a “lasagna” method using a semi-natural layering of organic matter (barn litter, compost, peat, grass clippings, leaves, newsprint) and letting bacteria, fungi, and earthworms to do the work for me.

At least, that’s the plan.

My green thumb is getting exchanged for a slightly browner one, and I have to believe that (as long as I don’t somehow mess up the soil) plants will know what to do without my micromanaging them. They were here doing just fine without us for billions of years before we arrived.

I’m getting out of their way to see what they can do without me.

6 thoughts on “Let Go, Let Dirt

    1. I think your ‘experimental plot’ is no longer experimental — it’s a success!! Your comment lights up my day. While you’re digging out of snow, I’m digging out of school. Looking forward to the spring marathon coming up. I may not have enough time or me left to blog about it though. Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

Say something. You know ya wanna.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s