September 23rd, 2009

Gardening in the Dark

Blessed Fall Equinox!

I have a new passion: Gardening at night.

My batch of baby mustard greens, collards, chard, and cabbage starts that needed nestled into the earth before the forecasted rain. It was too hot during the day, so after class Tuesday night I put on my my camping headlamp, slipped on my gardening clogs, and planted under the stars.

Under the still covering of darkness, the world is wonderfully alien and new. The eyes of teeny tiny spiders glow in bright pairs, reflecting blue-green as I pass the beam of my flashlight over the ground. I can only focus on one thing at a time, peering through a window of illumination from the light on my forehead.

I laid out all the plants on their new beds where I thought they should live, and then dug them into the freshly turned soil, rich with compost and blood meal and cottonseed meal.

There is very, very little soil where we live, since we are up on the top of a ridge that was once under a vast sea. So two years ago we trucked soil in, and an apprentice build me beautiful stone beds. Now under the beam of my light they make a soft, smooth contrast to the dark soil.

Once the plants were tucked in I watered them deeply and sent them love for their first night of freedom. Raven slept, an owl called in the distance. Peace.

At four a.m. I woke up to the joyful sound of rain and snuck downstairs, past the sleeping dog. I put on my raincoat so I could go out and giggle with the plants and relish the rain washing everything clean, bringing life. Roots spreading down, leaves drinking in each drop.

Here are before and after pictures…. I had let the garden go completely this summer, since it was sooo hot and dry. It was surprising to see what survived: one eggplant, a few zinnias, the thai basil. When I was turning the soil I was gifted with quite a few potatoes that popped out of the depths. I made corn and potato chowder with them; so sweet! I look forward to many fresh greens in the not too distant future.

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