Back in my daycare days, I knew a little guy by the name of Casey. Among his other talents (some of you may remember Casey as the guy who said “YOU WANT JUICE!” ) Casey was a fan of work machines. Now, lots of kids like work machines, we have a whole separate section of books here in the library just about machines. Casey took it a step further. He BECAME the machines. Many days he’d greet us with the words “I’m a front-end loader!” and then putter around carrying things from one place to another. One day I was walking backwards, carrying a stack of chairs, when I heard a beeping noise behind me. Beep. Beep. Beep. Yeah, it was Casey, announcing to the world that I was going in reverse.
And so, it is in hommage to Casey (who, geez, probably graduates high school this year) that I say to you “I’m a rototiller!”
Spring has hit in a vengence these last two weeks, some people would say we’ve scooted right into summer. I’ve decided it’s finally reasonable to begin work in the garden. Specifically in the raised beds on the side of the house. They are, I imagine, a gardner’s dream. Four beds, walled in, with drip system irrigation on timers. Blank canvases. There are one or two rose bushes that look like they might blossom again someday, but other than that, mostly empty, with a few twigs that were probably healthy plants at one time or another.
My plan was to fix up the dirt last weekend, and then install the flowers next weekend. I went to the Home Depot on Saturday to get dirt improvement supplies. Mulch, compost, a shovel and a rake. I filled the Celt Mobile (II) to bursting, even in “truck mode.” Came home and unloaded all the supplies on the side patio. And set to work on the first bed.
The first bed was pretty much solid clay, that seemed not to have been disturbed in decades. I hauled an empty trash can over, and tossed some of the clay into it (tossed makes it sound like I did it easily, but that’s poetic license.) When the can was, oh, maybe one-sixth full, I’d drag it over to the low spot in what I like to think of as “our future petanque court” and tipped it over. (Saying “tipped it over” makes it sound like I did that easily, but really, I leaned on it until it fell, then got down on the ground to scoop out the dirt with my hands until such time as I could actually invert the can and dump the remainder. Want to know what smart people use for this task? A wheelbarrow.) Lather, rinse repeat. I did this a few dozen times. At some point, I could actually get the hoe into the remaining dirt. That was all I could accomplish the first day.
On day two, I incorporated the compost-mulch mix into bed one. I read the directions on the package which informed me I had to mix thorougly down to a dept of 8-12 inches. Whew. Me and the hoe became good friends that afternoon. That was the day I learned why clever gardners don’t work in the garden in the middle of the afternoon.
Yesterday and today before work (my 11-8 shift, I wasn’t up at dawn or anything) I worked on bed two. The other three beds are filled with sand. All sand. I don’t understand several things. One, how does anything grow in all sand? I mean aside from iceplant. Which as we all know is a non-native invasive and should be crushed whenever possible. Two, why isn’t every cat for miles using our yard as the world’s most glamorous litter box? Whatever the reason, sand is much easier to hoe than clay. Though I think I’ll need more compost-mulch to make it garden-able. Probably, I should be mixing between the clay bed and the sand bed, now that they are both mulched.
Anyway, I’m absurdly proud of myself. No pilates or ballet class I’ve ever taken has done as much for my arm definition in a week as being a human rototiller has. And, when a friend came by our house for the first time this week, I drug her out to the garden saying “Come see the dirt I made!”