Saturday, February 5, 2011

Get Down and Dirty

     Oh no, disaster strikes.  My garden cart full of soil stashed away in the garage has been all used up, finished, gone.  To start more seeds, I need dirt.  Not just store bought dirt, but good out of the garden dirt.  The experts advise to use "sterilized" growing medium to avoid disease and the dreaded "damping off".  Just goes to prove I am no expert.  And cheap to boot.                                                                                                                                        
     Somewhere under that pile of snow is dirt.  Only  a nut would try to get potting soil now.  I confess, I am the nut, but you were already starting to suspect that.  Figuring the dirt would be heavy, I grabbed the little toboggon meant for the grand children.  Never been used.  The slight mound just in front of the toboggan is the remains of a leaf pile from the autumn collection.  Leaves that should have been shredded by the garden tractor if the fall had not been too short, too wet and too cold.  But with the snow cover and the leaf cover I figured there would be good treasure underneath, and non frozen at that. 

     There is at least six inches of snow still covering the yard and gardens.  We got ten inches about ten days ago, yet it is still mostly here.  You can just see the layer of leaves starting at the bottom of the snow cover.  I had chosen to dig at a spot where the leaf cover had probably been no more than a foot, rather than the next pile over that probably has five feet of leaves.  That is a project waiting to happen with the advent of some spring weather.

   The leaves had now broken down or packed down to only about six inches.  Digging out that layer revealed the treasure I expected.  Dark brown, moist, thawed, and beautiful dirt!  Well, you do have to be a certified nut to understand my glee.  So I dug out a container full of dirt, filled the leaves back in, then covered everything with snow.  Almost looked like a big squirrel had been digging.

    The trip back to the garage was uneventful, made far easier by the kiddie toboggon.  I will have to hide that for future use.  Then to the basement, where more work awaits.  This is my home made dirt sieve, made from boards that I salvaged from a beautiful red oak pallet rescued from a local garden center.  The screen is quarter inch rat wire.  Using the little plastic cup in the picture, it is easy to push the good dirt through the screen, leaving twigs and larger leaves on top.  They go back to a container to take them back to a trip through the compost pile.

     Voila.  Good dirt!  Beautiful dark, loamy, sweet earth.  A treasure gathered to await seeds, the start of this year's garden.  Was it worth it?  Yep, in spades.  Got me out in the garden, some dirt under my nails.  Today it is raining a freezing drizzle.  I may have questioned my own sanity going out today.
      So when you can, get down and dirty.  -  George

1 comment:

  1. Count me in as a certifiable dirt nut! I just love good dirt. It's Brown Gold to me!

    I start seeds in regular old dirt, too. I figure it makes them a bit hardier. Survival of the fittest and all that. Nature doesn't baby the seedlings, the ones that succumb to damping off just weren't hardy enough.