Playing in the Dirt

Here in the South, when one hears the phrase ‘playing in the dirt’ one tends to picture good old boys and girls out mudslinging in their 4×4 or ATV’s. It may also indicate a trip to the local dirt track for stockcar racing. However when Laura or I use the term it means we are out in the yard working the gardens.

This past Sunday was a great day for us to play in the dirt, since the strong storms the day before cleaned the pollen from the air. A cool sunny day albeit a tad windy, but a great day for yard work.

Laura and Katie were visiting Laura’s dad when I woke Sunday. So, I put in a load of laundry, folded clothes that were in the dryer while waiting for the two most important people in my life to come home.

Upon returning, Katie went to sequester herself in her room to text, to surf the web, and then to try to get her electronic piano working. I had to get batteries for her later in the day.

Laura planted some flowers in the flower pots that sit upon our brick wall in the back yard, as I gather the tools, potting soil, mulch and our rusty red wagon. The brick wall runs along the side of our property to the back, it helps to hold up the hill that makes up most of our backyard.

The veggie garden was our next stop. The garden is located next to the south facing side of our house. Two circular raised garden plots that Laura uses to plant her peppers, tomatoes and other good Southern veggies.

As Laura dug the holes, I was weeding the garden plots. The weeds seem to grow very fast, especially the snake berry plant. No snakes seen while we were working, but we have found several copperheads since moving here in August 2009.

To the east and a little up the hill from the veggie gardens is another raised circular plot use flowers. There are many trees in our yard, so of course, the flower plot had a lot of leaves that needed to be turned over in the rich black soil. That is opposed to the usual red clay that makes up part of the yard.

The hoe is Laura weapon of choice when it comes to garden work. I elected to use the metal rake with sturdy teeth, not to be confused with the metal rake that has those long slender teeth that are great for raking leaves but not for turning soil.

With weapons in hand, we began to mix the dirt, leaves and potting soil together. In addition to weeds, I pulled three wild onions from the flower bed. These would be later used in a salad. Several small tree seedlings were also present in the bed.

On our 0.75 acres of land there are more than twenty-five mature trees, mostly oak. And more seedlings trees than I care to count, but am glad that we have them.

Next stop was the flower bed directly in front of the house to plant more flowers. It was my turn to dig the holes and plant the flowers, while Laura separated the flowers from the containers.

Pansies and a large yellow flower that I purchased for Laura for her birthday. Same kind of flower that I got as a gift last year. Laura loves yellow flowers especially sunflowers. We plan on adding more of these near our front steps.

Morris the orange tabby that lives next door, but has adopted us just had to add his commentary to our yard work. Uncertain if his commentary were advice, criticism or just talking for attention. Morris also had to inspect our work, usually before we were finished planting something. Cats, don’t you just love them.

Three juniper bushes were our next planting job. Our yard is a steep hill that has some erosion problems. The juniper are ground cover that could help with the erosion, plus the have a pleasant aroma.

The first two I dug the holes and planted the bushes. To sit or kneel down to work the red dirt with the rich potting soil was such a pleasure. It brought back memories of helping my mom with her garden and flower beds. Mixing the potting soil and the red dirt of South Carolina should give a good soil mix for the juniper to grow.

Morris update: we used the red wagon to move the plants to the planting location, I spied Morris using the wagon as a sun shield and composed the following haiku.

rusty red wagon
orange tabby cats
hides in shade

Laura took over digging the remaining holes, one for the juniper and for a small oak tree. My lungs were on fire and I had started coughing. My bronchitis has been acting up with all the pollen in the air.

One oak tree seedling left to plant. It was moved from the veggie garden and put in the front yard. Laura dug the hole and I planted the tree. I sent some energy into the oak tree, and the juniper bushes, while asking Cernunnos to help them grow.

We were mulching the flowers and juniper as we planted, only watering was left to do. This is a bit of a problem since our property has an odd feature in that we have no water outlet in the front yard.

By now we were both tired and didn’t feel like lugging old ice tea gallon containers full of water to all the plants. Laura had a great idea, she would use one use one of the 18 gallon bins she got to hide Christmas presents in and fill it with water.

We placed the bin it in the trusty but rusty red wagon filling it with water and Miracle Grow and went forth to water all that we planted.

Background: the red wagon is one of those metal wagons that are bought for young children, I don’t know if the wagon was originally purchase for Laura or Katie. But it is rusty and I had thought of replacing it with something new for yard work. Laura talked me out it. I guess, I need to get a steel brush and remove some of the rust and then paint it.

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