Friday, June 06, 2008

Tiverton Tilling

I explained before in The Constant Gardener how my hasty choice of the unoriginal and entirely obvious pseudonym Tillerman for my role as the author of a sailing blog turned out to be apt in another way that I hadn't considered when I chose the name. Briefly... my wife is an avid gardener and I like to help her with the gardening which involves "tilling" the soil, so we are both "tillers" in the agricultural sense of the word...Tillerman and Tillerwoman. Cute, eh?

I've been doing a lot of tilling lately. This spring I've made three raised beds for vegetable gardening, a perennial border, and a rock garden. It was harder than I thought. Either this land hasn't been plowed since Weetamoo roamed these hills or, more likely, when the builder of our house blasted out a ledge on the bedrock on which to build the foundations he simply piled soil on top of all the rocks left over from the blasting.

There are a lot of rocks buried in our back yard. Little rocks. Big rocks. Huge bloody rocks. Before preparing an area for planting I've been digging over the soil and removing those rocks. When I come across a rock that's way too big for me to lift I dig all around it and see if I can lever it up half an inch with my shovel. Being a stubborn kind of fellow and a fan of Archimedes I figure that if I can move it up half an inch it's only a matter of time and sweat and levers and ramps and wedges to be able to move it up three feet and sideways thirty feet.

I've spent many hot sweaty sunny afternoons in the last couple of weeks removing rocks from an area that Tillerwoman had chosen for a perennial garden. Then I spent a couple of days burying all the rocks again in another area that Tillerwoman had designated to be a rock garden.

Don't ask. I'm sure there's some method in this madness.

Anyway, on Tuesday this week I finished tilling and fertilizing the perennial patch, Tillerwoman and I visited the local nursery and bought plants to fill it, and by late afternoon she was happily planting said plants in aforementioned patch. I made some sarcastic comment about how it took me two weeks of heaving rocks so that she could enjoy an hour of planting, and then suggested that maybe it still wasn't too late for me to fit in a sail as a reward for all my efforts.

My wonderful wife agreed that dinner could easily be delayed a few hours as we were "only having salad". (Having seen the masses of green stuff now thrusting its way up in the raised beds, I suspect we will be having a lot of salads this summer.) So before she could change her mind I left her to her planting, hitched up the Laser trailer to the car, and went off for a blast on the Sakonnet River.

It was a warm sunny evening. It was a good sail. What else can I tell you? Did you think this blog was about sailing?


Mondale said...

Getting back to days of yore, I often used to nip out of work early(ish) of a summer's afternoon and swoop over to my unemployed friend's house, garb a sarnie and a crew(aforementioned unemployed bloke who cunningly doubled up as my former bosses' son) and do a couple of stretches of Hickling in the Wayfarer. Stolen pleasures. Nice!

Carol Anne said...

Up at Five O'Clock Somewhere, we have a situation similar to what I've read is standard for New England -- lots of rocks, and every winter, the frost heave causes more rocks to come to the surface, like plants coming up in the spring.

Now, we do have an unusual circumstance in that, to create a level place upon which to put the house, we had to bring in a lot of dirt. And that dirt happens to have been excellent, black, rich valley-bottom topsoil. And we have built retaining walls to hold that excellent topsoil in place, and the structure of the retaining walls has resulted in some nifty terraces.

So far, our most successful plantings have been daffodils and alfalfa (which we didn't actually plant, but which came along with the topsoil, and which the local deer really love). Our neighbors have been successful with hollyhocks, which seem to love harsh conditions, and with native food crops such as beans and squash.

Post a Comment