Fertile ground

January 21, 2010

I am fortunate to live in a very southern climate.  While it can dip below freezing in the winter, we also have many days that reach the mid-seventies.  Today was one of those days.  

Because of our mild climate, we are, in this area, able to garden year around.  In the past, there was always something growing in the little patch behind my house whether it be tomatoes in the summer or lettuces in the winter.   Unfortunately last year with my mother ill, my garden went dormant and remained so for a year, which also means it went to weed.  I considered yanking the whole thing and starting over in nice boxes that might save me some time weeding and hoeing and tilling up natures annoyances.  But I changed my mind and after today I am glad I did. 

Why?  Simply put, when I pulled back the pine straw that covered most of the garden I found a veritable metropolis of life.    Once upon a time I would have cringed to see the earth moving or have bugs crawl over my hand as I rested it on the ground.   But today I sat in the watery sunshine of a fine January day and rejoiced that the soil I have tended and nurtured over the last five years is still fertile.  Fertile enough to support an abundance of life.  Fertile enough to support the plants I wanted to sow. 

The thing about organic gardening is coming to terms with nature.   It is all the craze to build boxes and get your gardens up out of the dirt.  But I don’t like that and until today I couldn’t put my finger on why (well, other than the cost!)  It may save some time but it also creates a barrier between the earth and your food.  Weeding is never fun but you have to give credit to those little plants with deep roots that struggle just for survival only to be ruthlessly yanked from their homes and left to die. 

Today I planted about 100 white and red onions.  I am looking forward to pulling the young ones out of the ground for shallots in the spring and the big bulbs in the late summer and fall.  For some time I avoided the garden because of the work involved in reclaiming it but the fruits of my labor will certainly be worth it!