Article and photo by Donna Iverson
As a pandemic spreads around us, my garden bed is looking more and more like a refuge, a place of mediation, even free therapy.
While the temperatures are still too low to plant even cold weather crops, it won't be long before we can. Lettuce, peas, onions, arugula, collards, carrots and beets, to name a few.
Prior to planting, gardeners need to prepare the soil: pull out weeds and add some organic matter like compost, if you have it..even coffee grounds will enhance soil fertility. The big word in agriculture these days is "regenerative" meaning you need to feed the soil to get healthy plants and a healthier you.
Usually this time of year, I use a hoe to loosen the topsoil and a shovel to dig down a few inches in preparation for planting. But this year, I'm not so sure. All winter, I have been reading and learning about the no-till method of gardening. Horticulture experts say that it does more harm than good to disrupt the soil biome. For one thing, you kill earthworms who are your garden friends. But it is hard to resist grabbing that hoe and shovel and getting to work ..as it is often the only chore available to a gardener until the soil warms up and dries out.
So this year. I will experiment with this approach and leave the garden tools home. Instead I will weed and grab a handful of dirt and scrunch it into a ball. When I open my hand and it crumbles, I will know planting time has arrived. If it stays tightly packed, I will have to wait a little longer. Sort of like taking your garden's temperature.
As for me, guess it's time to buy a thermometer so I can take my own temperature. I have a feeling that spring will find me in the garden a lot more often, as I find gardening calming, my fellow gardeners supportive, and the promise of sprouting veggies seeds offering hope in a dark time.