Tilth

tilth: The physical condition of soil as related to its ease of tillage, fitness as a seedbed, and impedance to seedling emergence and root penetration.

[Poem at the end.]

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You can tell good soil.  A shovel goes into it like butter.

This is not good soil.  It’s on the west side of the garage, bordering the alley, and it’s a problem area full of weeds.  I want to plant it, but if you try to put a shovel into it, chances are you will hit a brick. Or a rock.  Or a piece of broken glass. Or a rusty nail. I don’t think it’s impossible soil though, because it’s full of earthworms and nightcrawlers, which aerate and fertilize the soil, and give it tilth.

Before anything else happens, the rocks have to come out.  Last week I mowed the weeds, so now  I start removing the top layer of turf and weeds.

There are too many rocks to just pick them up and put them in a pile, so I devise a system of shaking the soil through the holes of a plastic crate. The rocks are caught in the crate and I dump them in a small garbage can. When the can is full, I carry it to the newly created rock pile.

The sun gets lower and lower in the sky.  The shadows creep up to where I am working.  Then, it’s dusk and the street lights come on.

This isn’t rocket science, so I keep working in the dark.

The next day, it’s ready to plant. Except for the small problem of the new rock pile.

Can you garden and blog with the same pair of hands?  I don’t think so.  Even though I had leather gloves, my hands are scratched and infected. I’m not anywhere near done either.

Why was it again, that I left Wobegon and came to the Big City? Time for a little Sandburg.

Poem: from “The Red Son” by Carl Sandburg, in Chicago Poems.

My last whisper shall be alone, unknown;
I shall go to the city and fight against it,
And make it give me passwords
Of luck and love, women worth dying for,
And money.

I go where you wist not of
Nor I nor any man nor woman.
I only know I go to storms
Grappling against things wet and naked.”

There is no pity of it and no blame.
None of us is in the wrong.
After all it is only this:
You for the little hills and I go away.

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