Sunday, June 10, 2018


I had a very late night Friday. Not by choice - I was really tired. But Moxie and Della decided not to come in from their after-dinner mouse hunt at the usual time of ~10 PM, so I had to wait up, occasionally ringing the "door bell," until they came in around 1 AM. So I had a late start Saturday morning, and - not the cats' fault - a bonus severe headache. When I got outside around 9 AM, it was already hot and muggy. After morning chores I had no energy left for other tasks.

It was a waste of a beautiful early morning and I’m writing about it in order to get this idea firmly in my mind:

I need to get up and out early.
No matter how little sleep I’ve had
or what kind of shape I’m in.

So this morning I was out, creaking but determined, as the sun was coming over the horizon. After chores I transplanted seedlings while the sun was low. Then as the morning heated up, I returned to a project I’ve begun to tackle in small increments:

This pile of rocks and roots and soil was created when the builder was grading the portico area. My plan is to remove the stones and use all the soil in the new Very Raised Bed.

First, I tried removing the stones with the power of my mind.

Then I tried to come up with a method that would actually work, but without causing a lot of added aches and pains.

As you see in the picture below, I set up a screen over the garden cart - remember the garden cart? - so I can stand upright for most of the sifting process. Not leaning is the best thing I can do for myself, in any activity, period. I have only so many "leans" in me on any given day, and nearly all of them go to the goats and Piper.

This task also has some variety in position and motion, as only one or two shovelfuls can be sifted at once. So there's turning, digging, lifting a shovelful of dirt and rocks, and then more sifting. Gripping is another tricky skill for me these days, so doing just that little bit of shoveling then going back to sifting is good.

Big rocks are rolled to one side, and will later become part of the garden. Fist-size rocks, smaller rocks, and roots, are filed separately. What's left is a fluffy pile of soil.

Della decided to check my work by hopping into the cart (beneath the screen), walking through the soil, and hopping out the other end of the cart.

The hardest part is actually getting the cart down to the Upper West Side. The loaded cart is heavy. The driveway is steep. A very heavy cart could get away from me, leading to scattered soil and bad language. So I fill the cart only part way, and even so I tack, back and forth, on the steepest section of the driveway.

Here’s the very first load shoveled into the new raised bed:

This is a couple of loads - and days - later:

It's quite exciting to run a hand through it without encountering anything hard or sharp.

I intend to keep at this until the entire pile has been sifted. I'm really looking forward to planting this garden bed, but the more soil I can add atop the thick layer of bedding and manure from the goat barns, the better. Meanwhile, in the existing gardens, I've been planting pole beans and transplanting all the seedlings that were started in the greenhouse. A little bit every day. And lots of watering. And enjoying the perennials appearing one by one:

Northern hemisphere readers: how does your garden grow?