Sharing–everything from extra seedlings to tubs of composted manure to divisions. Gardeners are a generous lot. We trade ideas, stories, woes and triumphs, but most of all we trade plants. Eleanor got my garden started, and several years later those same plants and their offshoots or babies helped start my sister’s garden. Every year I pot up lots of plants and pack them in some visitor’s car or truck, where they are taken off to a new home. Some people have told me it is dangerous–you can get other gardeners’ pests along with the plants. I have been scrupulous about not giving away any lilies, because of my red lily bug infestation (on-going, alas). Other than that I haven’t had any problems. I happen to have a lot of old horse manure, which makes really nice compost, and it’s great fun to share that with gardeners who really appreciate its worth. I love walking around my garden looking at plants and remembering where it came from. “Eleanor gave me that one. I got this one by accident from Thelma. Jan bought this for me for a birthday present. This one came from David’s parents. …” This morning I potted up a dozen or so plants to take to Jeanne’s place. They get dug up carefully, settled firmly in lots of good soil, watered thoroughly, and gently packed into the car. The car will smell like a greenhouse all the way to Warsaw! I snapped a picture of them waiting to be loaded:About the rhizosphere–I read an article in a recent American Gardener , the magazine of the American Horticultural Society about the thin layer of soil around the plant roots where a lot of important activity takes place. The plant roots interact with fungi and bacteria and all kinds of critters and chemicals. The basic lesson of the article was: disturb this zone as little as possible, and feed it as much as possible with compost of various kinds.
The author recommends no rototilling, no “double-digging”, of course no herbicides or pesticides. I have more and more respect for the complexity and elegance of soil and plants the more I learn about it. I’m planning to study this more, probably from on-line sources, but maybe I can also find some books about it. Mushrooms are a sign of healthy soil, these experts say, so I’m happy to see more and more of them. This last June a friend came to the garden party and left with a bag of meadow mushrooms he found. He took them home, double-checked their identity, and had them for supper! Here is one of those meadow mushrooms–a really big one we found last year.
We’re planning on a garden party for July 15, so I’m gearing up for that. Yesterday I spent most of the morning clearing out several years’ worth of hay chaff and scraps —prime mulch after it’s been rained on a bit–and carrying it by wheelbarrow to a big pile. It has lots of pigeon poop in it, too. It made a serious pile, so I can mulch the whole back yard garden with it. The picture below shows half of the pile–it’s about twice that big now. The barn is all raked out and empty, waiting for the new year’s worth of hay to be delivered this weekend. The horses will eat it and turn it into more garden soil!