Garden Journal 2013, Post 1: Digging

I was just out back digging holes for the fig and avocado trees, and am amazed at how beautiful our garden soil has become. Two decades ago it was a dump site, then the next owner used the spot to fix up his cars, and then we moved in, and I noticed it was the sunniest part of the backyard. It had to become a garden!

I have spent the better part of our residency digging in kitchen compost, and alternating growing vegetables and herbs, with fallow periods–such as the last year or so. Now it is a lovely, rich loam, with only occasional baby doll heads and shards of broken glass surfacing, to temper my optimism.

I’m wondering if I should even bother with building raised beds, which was my “want” for this year’s garden… except, of course, for my poor, aging back and creaky knees. As Mr Stephen Colbert once noted before a Congressional hearing, if we can send a man to the moon, then surely we can raise the level of the earth, so that picking beans doesn’t require all that bending over and squatting.

I’m planning to use mostly saved, open-pollinated seeds. The better half has put in her votes, and I have nearly everything she wants in stock. The only seeds I’ll need to buy are root vegetables: potatoes, radishes, beets, onions, shallots, leeks, and carrots. I’ve avoided root vegetables previously, because I was worried both about soil contamination and the aforementioned doll’s heads and broken glass. I’ve also pulled engine parts, rusting pipes, and various ceramics from the space. I was concerned, to say the least.

So, in addition to root veg, we’ll have various beans and peas, summer and winter squashes, sugar pumpkins and baby watermelon, tomatoes, cukes, herbs, and edible flowers. Oh, and of course, the fig and avocado trees.

I am probably insane to plant out avocados in Seattle, but I think they’ll do okay. Partly, I’m counting on global warming, but I’m also counting on our microclimate, and the fact that I’ve reared these children for three years in my dining room, and I’m pretty sure they are big and sturdy enough to toddle outside, now. They are hardy down to the high 20s, at this stage, so if they can put on enough muscle during the warm season, I should be able to overwinter them outside. If not, well, I’ll try again. A girl must have a dream, and mine is to be Seattle’s first avocado farmer.

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