While the smallish people headed to Maine to open their grandparent’s Moosehead Lake camp with Dad, I headed into the garden this weekend. The ancient irises have started to bloom – they were a breathtaking surprise last year, in a color scheme I had never seen before, and I have been looking forward to them again since they faded out last July. I’ve been working on cleaning up the trench bed where they and the peonies live, a task I didn’t get to last year. It only takes about 6 months for a garden to get overtaken by weeds, and I am removing several years worth. Reorganizing and restructuring the trench bed, which is a desperately needed task, like so many things here, probably has to be deferred to next year, but I am already starting to make plans.
On Saturday, I also pulled out 4 wheelbarrows filled with debris, rocks, and weeds from the old garden in preparation to till. Last year gardening season ran very late, with tomatoes, tomatillos and squash still ripening in early November, and I ran out of steam. Instead of pulling out the old vines, I just opened one side of the wire fence and let the wildlife have at it. It l left a mess though, and was pretty overdue to clean it up.
My next door neighbor and friend Melissa and I co-garden, share chickens, ducks, and frequent meals and glasses of wine. Last year we started the garden together somewhat organically, with an offer of help from her father to rototill. Somehow that became a shared garden space to both of our delight, and this year we sat down to make a plan to make the garden more permanent. Melissa’s husband Jay weighed in to ensure we actually have a plan that will work – which is a critical check on our enthusiasm to just get started and figure things out as we go along – and helps out when our skills are exceeded by our excitement, which is with reasonable regularity. Jay has a sixth sense about when to step in and when to let us get on with it.
Because we want this garden to last for many years, we decided to till the space, removing any noticeable grass, myrtle and weeds, as well as roots and rocks, before leveling it with added compost – 8 yards of it will arrive on Tuesday. Pulling out clumps of grass as Melissa tilled in the rain left me with the realization that I was now living that line from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail “Denis, There’s some lovely filth over here.”
Melissa’s father once again loaned his rototiller, which he bought in 1971 and is still going strong – I have an immense fondness for this particular piece of garden equipment, having created the area where I plant now twice. It took a while for us to get the hang of it without Melissa’s Dad around to supervise, but eventually we figured out the 47-year- old tiller and got to work.
It took just under 3 hours to till and clean out the new garden area, which is now ready for the added dirt, and a fence later this week.
It’s a chilly day here, and we were both grateful when it was time to go inside, but so proud of our accomplishment. It’s getting real, and I can’t wait to see it when it is finished.