SFH Plantings 2018-02: Dirt Poor

We are dirt poor!

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Part of our subterranean Stonehenge

That’s the major reason why we have garden boxes instead of tidy furrows in the traditional manner. Until, we can afford an investment in an array of power tools, we couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the open areas in our yard.

Oh, we have great soil, but it is randomly distributed among rocks, roots, and drainage ditches. It’s just not where we need it and there’s not enough of it.

It’s worthwhile saying, the concept of box gardening is not foreign to us. For several reasons, mostly associated with matters of convenience, we have learned that it is a great way to garden. It takes a lot less work to weed and cultivate in a box garden than in a traditional garden.

Another reason why box gardening appeals to us is because we took a short course on the subject at a nursery in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The course was based on the book All New Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew. No, we never had a box garden in Idaho because the ever present wind would have blown everything in the boxes to Wyoming or Montana. One of the things worse than being “dirt poor” is being “wind rich”.

Recognizing that we’re dirt poor at Serendipity Farmhouse, we set up our first two boxes with the beginning of planting season in 2015. The next step, of course, is filling the boxes with dirt. Nope, not yet! Remember, we’re dirt poor. We had to go buy dirt to fill the boxes.

Now, here we step into the world of “dirt cheap“. Don’t believe it! Dirt costs money and not all dirt is the same – or at least the prices aren’t the same. In the view of most establishments selling dirt there are three types of dirt – expensive dirt, yuppie dirt, and millionaire’s dirt.

In 2015, we went with yuppie dirt and had moderately good results. In 2016, my “inner cheap” told me to go with the lowest priced “expensive dirt”. In spite of cautioning words from my beautiful spouse, I bought many bags of the “bottom-of-the-line” dirt.

You guessed it. Both 2016 and 2017 I paid the price for falling into the trap laid by my “inner cheap”. There were stones in that dirt; there was gravel in that dirt; and apparently there was disease in that dirt. My “inner cheap” killed more than one beautiful tomato plant. Oh, jalapenos and okra are hardy enough and they survived, but I was still guilty of the senseless death of Mr. Stripey.

I am remorseful now and 2018 will be the year I put my “inner cheap” out to pasture. All the old dirt is coming out of the boxes – approximately 2.4 cubic yards. I will shovel the dirt into a wheelbarrow (many times) and use it to fill in holes and ruts around the yard.

A few minutes ago, my wonderful wife sent an email to a local business asking if they would kindly deliver 2.4 cubic yards of Rappahannock County top soil. Come March 5th, yours truly, my shovel, and the wheelbarrow will spend a lot of time together. My wife and Mr. Monte will watch me closely and provide “guidance” and “encouragement” whenever my work pace slows.

I almost forgot to tell you about the free lawn aeration service that came with the house when we bought it. When we lived in Manassas, Virginia, we had to pay big bucks to have a service come out and aerate our meager lawn. My “inner cheap” really chafed at the whole idea of having to pay someone to put holes in the lawn. But they told us that it needed to be done.

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Free aeration service or infernal lawn critters?

Are they moles, voles, or gophers? We don’t rightly know. It might be all three. Whatever they are, they do a great job. In fact, I personally believe that they are overachieving. Anywhere you walk, you have to be careful not to fall into one of their traps. They have tripped us up more than once. My only source of  sweet revenge is running over there holes and crushing their burrows with my lawn tractor.

Are we poor in earthly goods? No, we have Serendipity Farmhouse. We have our children. We have our grandchildren. No, we are not poor – we are richly blessed!

Nevertheless, we are dirt poor.

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