Gardening in Suspension

Long rainy night, with more rain expected, on and off throughout the day, after a rainy day yesterday. Raining heavily now. My gauge shows just under two inches here since Monday night. Less than the three inches or more that the local TV weather clones predicted..

Still, more rain than we needed (not that we have any say in the matter), and more than enough to slow down work in the garden for a few days.

This isn't a complaint, or isn't intended as one anyway. The weather is what the weather is— as it always has been. (The climate is something else. The climate is becoming what we have made of it. And that, of course, affects the weather, a fact (sic) that the local weather clones continue to decline to mention.

Where weather is concerned, I have been accurately accused of loving it all — mild or stormy, clear or cloudy, too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. And, with the exception of the devastating and often tragic consequences of extreme weather, I do.

Even when it slows down or halts my garden work. I'm no gardening Goldilocks — I try to work with what I have. And what I have this year is a lot of mud.

Day before yesterday I talked for awhile with my good neighbor Jewell Brown. Central among the many things we discussed was the challenge of farming (for Jewel;) and gardening (for me) when the weather is as wet as it has been here this spring and early summer. No matter how well a garden drains, it can't drain this much rain coming this intensely and constantly.

I mentioned my father's comment that it was far easier to work land that was too dry than too wet, a sentiment that anyone who's sunk a boot — much less a tire or wagon wheel — into deep, and deeply supersaturated soil knows all too well. The kind of mud that can pull a boot from your foot while you're trying to pull the boot from the mud.

Jewel nodded his long-time farmer's nod. He's seen it all, and the weather is a far more serious matter for him than for me. He makes his living from the land; I am simply sustained by it.

I have been watching the mud in the garden pretty closely this year. trying to gauge the point at which my garden soil ceased being solid and became instead a suspension, a solution. And not the sort of solution that solves problems, but rather the sort of solution that is one.

That point, which has happened three or four times this year, is rapidly approaching once more. Another inch or so of rain today should do it — and we're expected to get much more than another inch.

Then it becomes a race as to whether or not the garden dries out enough to be worked before the rains return again.

I suspect that when I step out to the main garden a little later I will discover that this week's race is already lost — we have more rain on the way.

I will spend some time looking at the mud, the suspension whose only solution is time and dry weather.

"You get a better harvest from too dry than too wet," Jewell said to me before we parted beneath gathering rain clouds.

But you also grow what you can grow in the conditions available to you.

In other words, sometimes when I plant collards, what grows best is colloids.



Steve Janesick July 4, 2013 at 12:16 PM

I've been trenching around the northwest side of the house to help keep the basement dry. For just the second time in almost 30 years, we had seepage into the cellar. It looks like my work may have paid off, but now the outside look like a cross between a small scale Panama Canal mock-up and the movie set to "Brazil". Got ducts?