Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blank Canvas

Dumping the loam

Preparing to plot a garden

Last summer our yard was battered-around during construction and this spring we were left with a mound of gravel and sprouts of field grass in scattered clumps. Attempts at dropping grass seed didn't yield any improvement. I even tried mowing "the desert" a couple weeks ago. I don't recommend such action to anyone else in our same predicament. The dust was clouding around me and rocks were flying. Perhaps more of a battlefield than anything else!

"Plan B" went into action a few days ago. I arranged for a loam delivery, having been told that this is what we would need to do should we want grass, in any recognizable pattern, ever again.

It's always exciting when big equipment pulls up the drive. I managed to grab the camera just in time to catch the truck bed lift-up and dump. Bello ran and hid, fearful of any big booming noises. Carl then got into his little yellow tractor and pushed the dirt around the hill we call our front yard.

Before all these changes, we had a five foot wide swath of grass bordered by phlox, digitalis, valerian, rose bush, lilies, primrose, and peony. It was sad to lose these plants last summer, a casualty of the excavation equipment. But this spring, remnants of the yard-past keep popping up in new places. The phlox is peeking through in varied spots and the digitalis is now lining the driveway. Chris planted a new rose bush a few weeks ago, and I am waiting with anticipation to see where the primrose will surface, or if we will ever see the ancient peony again.

Yesterday yielded gorgeous blue skies and near tropical (by Lubec standards!) temps. I was eager to get outside to work in the yard but the day's chores of pottery, paperwork, and prepping for guests kept me inside. After company left at 6:00, the weather was still holding and I decided that I would take advantage. I spent a couple hours raking out the big clumps of loam to create some sort of smooth grass-growing surface. And now....

I am staring at a blank canvas.

"Plan C": Plant a veggie and herb garden.

I know this is common for most everyone else, but in our nine years of living in Lubec, Chris and I have not planted a garden. A friend, whom we consider a master gardener, offered-up some seedlings. So, here we go.

Chris and I had a very successful garden in Tennessee, but the previous homeowner had preened the soil just-so. All we had to do was turn the earth and plop in plants and seeds. Not even a bit of fertilizer. Here, contending with a big pile of gravel, there is much more prep work to do. But since we needed the loam...why not just go for it? So, in the car waits chicken wire, manure, and a hoe.

This will be an adventure for certain, an experiemnt to see what plants we will be capable of growing in this windy coastal climate, and what critter-casualties will occur. It goes against my better visual/aesthetic senses to put chicken wire in the front yard....but I am thinking a trade-off of fresh cherry tomatoes, basil, and squash is pretty good. The rabbit and the fawn will just have to look at the fresh produce with envy.

We see this year's garden as an experiment to better prepare us for next summer. Should our garden grow, we will look into purchasing canning equipment and trying our hand at that. Hopefully some local friends will take pity on our lack of knowledge and offer to teach us the tricks of the trade. Side-note: Is it hard to make and can apple sauce?

I am anxious to get my hands into the rich soil. Gardening gives me that same peaceful feeling I get when working with clay.

I'm glad that I did my raking last night. The rain is starting to fall this morning, making for a quiet grey day here in downeast Maine. I'll take advanatage of the indoor time to trim yesterday's pots and continue work on a new project. It's good reflective time.

In the meantime, are there any "must-knows" for us before the seedlings get planted? Sage advice from master gardners? I couldn't find zucchini or summer squash seedlings, will seeds work just fine this late in the season?


vmckimmey said...

If you have a hose, we can loan you a "scarecrow" it is a device to protect your garden using a motion sensor and water pressure. Let us know... i'll bring it over.


thanks, vern!

Anne Michelle Johal said...

Hi Shanna, I love your pottery, the beautiful rounded shapes for the hands, and I will watch with interest your garden, wonderful to see your starting point.

Thank you for your comment on my blog and yes your are so right with the quote. I feel liberated.


Russet - as you, the expected course of direction has changed for me too. I wish you all the best with your new understanding and course.