Now that I’m many years out of my formal schooling, I love finding opportunities to learn outside of a school classroom. That’s one of the things I treasured about attending the Field to Fork Festival on Saturday. There were wonderful workshops where I learned about things that interest me like cheese making (the presenter made it look simple) and permaculture. Susana Lein’s demonstration of how she has enriched the clay soil on her farm (clay is common in Kentucky) with this method, that requires no tilling or hoeing, inspired me like previously reading about it didn’t.
The idea is to cover the soil with organic matter that will enrich it. She uses brown cardboard, manure and lots of straw. Layer these three components on the garden in the fall, enriching the soil, and by spring they will be decomposed so that you can make a hole with your hands and plant vegetables. Susana didn’t promise it would totally eliminate weeds, but the validity of the method is evident at her Salamander Springs Farm, which is primarily known for its organic beans, but also produces other vegetables.After reading about a method similar to this in the winter, I thought I would try it out on the row paths between my vegetables this summer. Alas, winter gardening dreams never turn into a full reality for me. But if I can get cardboard, manure and straw, it’s not too late to start.
Since the festival put me into the learning spirit, I decided to read my gardening by the moon calendar to see what the moon phases recommend I do this week. Yesterday was a weeding day, so I did as much as I could. It’s a difficult task when the ground is so dry. But I will say I haven’t embraced gardening by the phases of the moon like I had envisioned when I was still wearing a sweater to walk to the library for that learning session. The moon and the weather gods don’t seem to collaborate on their scheduling to make it easy! If the ground is too wet or too dry for particular tasks, or I have too many deadlines, I cannot complete the recommended tasks. Yet, the calendar is still on my wall and I consult it weekly, wondering if it would be more possible to actually garden as it recommends in another year when the powers that be decide to talk with one another about scheduling.
Sometimes these lessons teach me what I cannot do. Sometimes I learn what I should try, whether today, next year or sometime in the future. Sometimes I learn what I definitely want to replicate every year. It’s all learning that keeps urging me to go into the garden for more study and practice as I grow right along with my plants.