Light Rain Falling
[Cross-posted at La Vida Locavore.]
A small rain was gently coming down as I arrived at my future palace of potatoes this afternoon but oh well, wet you’ll get, that’s what’s in for you for calling roses prissy. I’ve been an avid expert rose gardener for over a decade, but just two days before had been ripped bloody silly by conditioning my secondary garden, arching canes and a wide center spot gave me those thorns of blood that leave bruises and tear shirts. I’d only just healed from primary and tertiary, too, I am forever dutiful to roses but like all relationships some days it just can’t seem worth it.
I’m not sure why it happens, but that me-Tarzan smoke’n spit big-swinging-dick-roses-are-prissy male posturing is discouraging, not only is the immaturity wearying but that crap actually causes a lot of trouble in this world, and it irritates me that I lapsed into it.
Naturally the very first job in the food bank project is the rose garden, it’s very important to me that I be respectful and restore the small flower gardens that were first here: roses, zinnias, carnations, mums, there’s tons of spaces still for hundreds of pounds of food, and people like flowers.
I had first day duty last week, then two small three-hour jaunts over the long weekend, the weather has been very good and the rose work must be done right now, there can be no waiting on winter rose conditioning. I cleaned the canes and snipped back, cleaned the beds, tilled, then hoed in a 40 cubic foot run of chicken manure.
Today was planting nine fresh rose canes to fill out the primary and two small path border gardens, conditioning some patch of bulbs, I dunno what they are, then next week the raised beds for the other flower beds start, then watering system, then soils.
In honor of the inauguration and President Obama all nine new canes are the legendary Mr. Lincoln, a red rose of serious fragrance I’ve avidly given bouquets away to women for many years, it’s been a fascinating experience.
One of my people is going to help me build the raised flower beds, and when the soils are ready to be heaved two more have committed to help, damn right, I was there for their church garden projects (one of them is the gardener at St. Luke’s), they’ll be there when yards have to be wheeled around for mine. It’s good to know such men, good not to do it all alone.
Bye the bye, a friend mentioned to me that my potato project of “penance” was a good idea. I’m touchy about my compulsion to do this, I know some look askance at me for it, but without being a drama queen about it let it be unequivocally stated penance has nothing to do with it.
I’m doing it to demonstrated a lot of food can be grown in a small space. It’s quiet and secluded, it’s easy to think with a hoe in my hands. It’s no secret I’ve had some troubles lately and have been very quiet, ‘n well, I’m having trouble working through something. If I can’t I won’t be politically writing again, the world will still turn.
It does seem like a lot of work for an outsider, I guess, but I’m in top shape, it’s not that hard, and once all the initial work is done after spring a garden with a watering system is a breeze, just weed and pick stuff.
I use ¾ PVC connected to ½ 25-ft. soaker lines, at the house I use pumps but for the church garden I’ll just use 1-slot timer valves, excellent pressure means four soaker lines per pipe, set it up and barely water again. For a remote garden like this it’s a total necessity, I don’t have the time to hand-water all summer.
This church has a beautiful, charming apricot orchard—one of my favorite fruits—and I have volunteers in my space, but the church orchard is dwarf—I don’t know if seedlings will be dwarves too, I’ll have to find out. They don’t look it, but I don’t know. I also have to thoroughly research growing potatoes and looking into the best varied types, I’ve grown russets before but that was a long time ago. Looks like 12 raised potato beds now, 4 x 10 yards each, I don’t know how high yet.
I’ll let you know what I find out, and what we decide is the best method for fabricating raised beds. It’s January 21, 3-4 weeks out from competing phase one, then the potato beds start.
It only rained for half an hour, there wasn’t much wind so I didn’t feel cold, and soon planting roses warmed me up. Doves kept me company, the fresh rain on newly tilled soils was heavenly, and with dirty hands and scuffed knees I bent respectfully to the earth, happy with duty in the fading light.