There is something about getting up early, putting on the kettle, grinding the coffee beans and then paying a visit to the plants outside the front door. It doesn’t always happen that way, but it should. The land is flat and I can see the sun rise orange from the bathroom window. These days the mornings are still and warm. I check the bird feeders and the birdbath. Sometimes the garden has to go neglected–has to wait until later for a good soaking or weeding. But more often than not it gets my attention, these days–deadlines must be extended, submissions delayed. The garden isn’t as much demanding as it demands, if that makes sense.
It seems all the sunflowers I grew from seedlings on our kitchen counter somehow didn’t make it, after being transplanted. But the seeds I carried in my pocket and randomly poked into the ground have taken hold with a vengeance, and if the growing season continues we may be able to use these things for firewood to get us through the winter. The funny thing is they have been the least demanding of water. Perhaps they have found our aquifer and are drinking the well dry. I may have to name them “Audrey” and “Audrey 2” if they get much bigger. They certainly have personalities and do the happy dance when I spray them with the hose.
I’m not sure when they arrived, but on the entire six acres these few golden shoots of some kind of grain–barley, wheat, oats–have made their presence known. Regardless of endless extraction of stones from soil, and planting of perennials, and construction of stone walls, porches, pergolas and potted pansies, these few strands of grain found themselves catching the sun every evening, shimmering above and beyond it all.
Last year two trenches were dug, one for electrical and one for the well. We’ve come to believe that the soil turned up from the five foot deep cuts churned dormant prehistoric seeds which have now woken, planted themselves and are covering the five hundred foot length of previously scarred land. Some of the flora looks like it came out of my childhood Dr. Seuss books: curly-cue blue petalled long stalks of fantasy plants, that open at dawn and close in the full sun.
I also planted seeds to grow and keep the deer and wild turkeys fed with wild kale, turnips and clover. But for all the growth, these golden strands are one of a kind.
I have wanted to do this for some time, especially since we are living in a bit of a rainshadow. I had a few ideas floating around in my head, but most of them depended on what I’d seen and known that a bird bath should be.
We have a small area of gravel on the property, where we park one of the cars when we need to, and I decided it would be the perfect spot to shape out a concave mould for my birdbath idea.
I dug a shallow depression and used a concrete mix from the hardware store. The bag of concrete weighed about 60 pounds and more disagreeable than a sack of potatoes. I mixed it in a plastic tub with the measured amount of water. I put broad leafed weeds to good use; lined the depression with a plastic bag and leaves, and then poured the wet concrete into the depression. I pressed another depression into the top of the concrete and covered the surface with more leaves, plastic and gravel, and a large stone to maintain the shape. Two days later the concrete cake was baked, and I peeled away the lining and heaved the bowl onto a stack of stones by our garden. I look forward to new visitors once the rain stops.
Sad news from this Ain’t the Rosedale Library.
It may be a tad ambitious, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I am building a raised vegetable garden using the leftovers from the house construction. The pile of earth was delivered a few months ago, during which time weeds have taken root. It’s sandy loam and comes from a forest not too far away. The grizzled old guy who owns the company that takes care of finding and delivering the soil apologized for not screening it, but said that screening would be an extra expense. We agreed the soil is in excellent condition with very few rocks.
I had to lead the dump truck through the trees in order to get the soil dumped in a convenient spot. Now the frame is up and I have placed a special fabric on the ground to prevent weeds from coming through. It looks simple enough — spread the soil from the pile into the boxes — but each wheelbarrowful is like a drop in the bucket.
Between my trip to the Writers Union AGM in Ottawa, and Vancouver to read, we visited a local cooperage and bought an old wine barrel to catch water. There are predictions of a dry summer and we are on a well, so it doesn’t make sense drenching the garden. A big barrel-maker of a guy delivered the barrel and asked me where I wanted it… In the following days I drilled a hole in the top and then sawed enough to then smash the top in with my prized pick-axe. The inside smelled strongly of red wine and the insides were a deep red colour.
In the following days I bought a faucet and a drill bit the size of the faucet screw, and the following morning was up early to drill a hole in the lower section. “Apply goo,” said the barrel maker, which I did. The brass faucet is now intact. I was afraid with all of the sawing, hacking, and drilling that I would unlock some crucial point of tension and the whole thing would explode. (The barrel maker had explained how he makes new barrels, with all the gear and the rings etc, and shaping the wood. It seemed like a large uncomplicated bomb waiting to explode.)
Now, by the edge of our house, where I sawed the drainpipe and guided it towards the barrel, it seems happy enough. However, I am now wondering how to get the water in the barrel–fill it with the hose? We still haven’t had a big downpour.