Miss Dirtiness

planting1My crew hates when I come to the job.  I get dirt all over the furniture, at best, and at worst I am tinkering with the design when they want to get on with business. But when I am home, I can be the Miss Dirtiness I have always been. 

planting2I cannot abide gloves of any description.  Even if I could stand to have them on, I invariably loose them, or pitch them out with the trash.  Diana never plants for me without gloves-everyone has their own way of doing, which makes for an interesting gardening world. I like to plant with my hands whenever possible.  As you can see, I have no fear of dirt. I have no fear of it in my wine, down my socks,. or in my hair.  I have on occasion fallen into bed, dirty.  After all, the table can be cleaned, and the sheets washed.   

planting3I like everything I am working with right there in front of me.  Buck was horrified the first time he saw me put dirt on the dinner table, but he is mostly over that.  Its a good thing people cannot see the organisms on every surface, and in the air.  It would make the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds seem boring.   Most organisms are friendly, even necessary-that’s the scientist in me.   I like giant tropical bugs, worms, and toads. However,  I could never bring myself to eat a snail; I can barely look at Buck when he eats them.  Go figure.

planting4In spite of his tolerance for my habits with plants and dirt, he is always relieved to get to the cleanup part.   Pretty soon, we will be over the dirtiness phase.

10 More Reasons to Plant for Spring





More Dirt



Wet weather transformed my beloved dirt; I loved my mudpies in all their shapes,  like any kid. This was how I became interested in recipes for dirt, a lifelong interest that I would never apply to cooking food. I am sure a child invented the benign form of the word mudslide, and its action verb companion, mudsliding. Muddy dirt games progressed inevitably to dirty water adventures.

more-dirtBreaking through thin ice sitting in the bottom of a basement excavation was my first introduction to the notion that nature had its dangerous side, and why adult people build shelters.  A pounding rain would make puddles and pools, then lakes; finally there would be rills, gullies and the like; the water would run .  I learned to make water run myself. At the first sign of spring thaw, I would be breaking through the ice dams so the water would run- an experiment with gravity and grade that would go on until I was too soaked and cold to keep tinkering with my routes.  Walking on frozen winter dirt made as good a sound as rubber boots lifting off spring mud. The frost coming out of the ground heaves it up, changing its shape and texture.  The sun drying it out left it cracked, and virtually impervious to re-soaking. Snow covers it up-what a relief to see dirt visible again after months of winter white. The wind turning heavy clods of dirt to clouds of dust is as much a natural wonder as water becoming ice, or ice subliming. I have a particularly clear memory of a very cold fall day, cleaning up a garden.  At lunch time, I forked out a hole just big enough for me in the compost pile.  My compost cave exuded a moist fierce heat-a perfect garden moment I have never forgotten.more-dirt1

Plant Some Pots

Diana has been planting pots for me for 10 years.  She starts with a square of landscape fabric over the drain hole, and adds drainage material to 2/3 of the pot. Another layer of landscape fabric prevents the soil from sifting down into the drainage layer.  We use a topsoil/compost mix for pots.  Soil-less mixes are great for professional growers, as it is sterile. Professional growers know how to water and fertilize properly. I like real soil. We mix in osmocote, a time release fertilizer; the rate of release speeds up as the soil temperature goes up. Apply according to directions. We go for that lush look; we pack the plants in, so they look great from the start. Later, we groom the pots.  We remove excess growth underneath to keep the air circulation good, and the possibility of fungus low.  We cut back the dead flowers and leaves.  We may even shape the overall composition by trimming and cutting back.  Does she not make it look easy??


april_16_029april_16_030april_16_039Spring plantings do look great in old crates, wood boxes, buckets and baskets. Landscape fabric can help hold the soil where you want it; coir sheets can be cut for boxes with big open spaces.  Coir is a mat woven from the fibers of the hull of the coconut; it is sometimes called coco fiber. Have at planting some pots.