I’ve been in the trenches. Literally.
I’ve been thinking about how to be a better steward of our environment, at least the part I have some control over: our yard. My first thought: Lawns are crazy.Our grass usually turns golden brown by early July and stays that way until October. We don’t water it because water is a scarce commodity around here. Anyway, much of it is weeds. I pull and pull, but once the ground dries, it’s like concrete and nothing is coming out of it.
What do they say about insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and thinking it will turn out differently? Lawns like that.
We don’t have a big lawn, mind you. And there was a period where the bits of grass got plenty of use by our kid and friends. But the swings are gone from the swing set, to be replaced by a hammock, which we have, but since nobody sets foot in the backyard, we haven’t hung it.
There’s a strip where we grow herbs and cherry tomatoes. It’s next to the swing set, with the idea of being a snacking garden for our kid. We wanted our kid to actually pick food off a vine (we also have raspberries and strawberries). It worked. The tomatoes produce right up until Christmas. Not a ton, but I do find it amazing to pick tomatoes in December.We planted some fruit trees, too–apricot, cherry and fig. The fig actually was growing wild in the yard. The apricot tree gave us huge bounties year after year, but last year and this year have not been good. And the cherries are for the birds. That’s OK.
When the ground was still soft from spring rains, I started digging a trench for compost. The soil here is very argile, or clay, and I wanted to add organic material. I experimented over winter/spring in the tomato bed, and the compost broke down in about a month. I was delighted, and the tomatoes seem similarly happy.
The idea of composting is such a no-brainer. Rather than throw away something that will create climate-destroying methane gas, it’s so much better to turn it into healthy soil. Some places burn municipal trash to generate electricity, but wet food waste can make it burn less efficiently. Plus, how many times had we gone to the garden center to buy huge sacks of decent dirt? Talk about crazy.
Now the trench is nearly full. (I took the opportunity to pull some huge stones out of the ground, too–they are getting a new life as a border.) Later, when the human food has turned into plant food, that strip will be filled with drought-resistant perennials that will please the bees and butterflies and birds. Nothing is planted at this time of year–the garden centers are nearly empty. It’s just too hot and dry.
Eventually, I might do another trench on a new area of grass. The goal is to eventually just have parterres with gravel paths and no grass at all. And also, eventually, a potager with more than just cherry tomatoes.
The trash-collection company offers composters for €15. I need to order one to do regular composting. We have a mounting leaf pile to prepare a stock of brown material to balance out the wet kitchen scraps. I also spread crushed dry leaves as mulch around plants, including in pots, to help retain moisture, and it seems to have helped. I spread leaves around the raspberries to keep the weeds down, which has worked like a charm and has also kept the raspberries from wilting. I then did the same around the fruit trees. The Carnivore was skeptical at first, but the leaf mulch didn’t blow away. Now even he is sweeping up the leaves from the terrace and dumping them on the leaf pile. How crazy it was to bag them and dirty the car to haul them to the dump!
What about you? Do you garden? Do you enjoy it? Do you compost? Any tips?