November 5, 2009 in Washington Voices

Season makes room for resourcefulness

Pat Munts
 

There is something to be said for the hush in the garden after the killing frost.

There are no more ripe tomatoes to keep track of. No more zucchini to bushwhack through to find the monster you missed. Just the twitter of finches and nuthatches as they clean out sunflower seeds and the smell of moist earth and leaves. Mother Earth and I are taking a deep breath together.

With the slower pace, I am taking my time building some new raised beds. It is wonderful to build good, strong ones. It is a joy to do something right. Why I didn’t build them sooner I don’t know. Maybe it’s appealing now because the ground is looking farther away and getting to and from it is a slower process. Regardless, all I will have to do in the spring is go out and plant.

I am a firm believer in repurposing other people’s castoffs. It’s part of the fun to score what you need for little or nothing or salvage something that would have ended up in the trash.

A neighbor tore off his old deck last summer, and we took the old wood off his hands. There was enough for three 4-by-12-foot beds for me and lots of project wood for my husband. I check Habitat for Humanity’s building surplus store and Brown Building Supply regularly for more wood.

For the bed soil, I have been collecting grass clippings and leaves around the neighborhood and composting them over the summer. A group of community gardeners retired their compost bins and I hauled home two truckloads of leaves and garden trimmings.

A couple of summers ago we bought several yards of good compost to finish a landscape project. We didn’t use it all, and into the boxes it went. Who needs a gym membership when you have dirt to move? To keep the weeds down around the beds, I am laying down shredded pine needles and bark from the wood pile.

The raspberry row I replanted two years ago is finally ready for a trellis. My recycle pile yielded some fence posts, left over from another project, that are stout enough to put at the ends of the rows. I’ll thin out the old fruiting canes and the weak plants and then tie next year’s fruit canes to some stout wire. In the spring the contents of the winter compost bin will go on the plants.

Some people would call what I am doing work, and yes it is. But to be outdoors exercising in the crisp, sweet fall air and the last of the warm sun is the best tonic I know. To be able to stop and watch a nuthatch grab a seed or watch a deer walk by without seeing me are experiences to savor when the snow flies.


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