Sunday, October 25, 2015

Jenny Sticks and Onion Starters

Jenny cut down a lot of saplings in the woods around the Garden at Montaluce to use for "projects." I called us outlaw gardeners, and these sticks were our ticket to whatever structures we imagined for our two acres of weeds in the North Georgia mountains. Jenny justified cutting down the saplings by explaining that they would never get the opportunity to grow beyond a certain size because the bigger trees would, essentially, choke them out.
Jenny Sticks and other foraged supplies.
We called her crazy Jenny, and her collection of saplings and branches, Jenny sticks.

Jenny was a brave woman with clear foresight, but she lacked confidence in her gardening abilities. I remember coming to work in the morning, a bag of onion starters in my back pocket, ready to get them in the ground so we could harvest in the fall, and then spending over an hour debating whether or not we would be able to properly protect the onions with the soil on the top of the hill where we intended to plant them.

Would it be loamy enough? Loamy soil will easily crumble in your hand, unlike clay, which makes up the majority of the earth in Georgia. You can find loam where trees have fallen in the woods and broken down. It's dark, moist, and it smells like soil should smell. Would our clay soil be able to remain well drained with the right additives? Would we be able to amend the clay enough so that it would allow the tiny onion starters room to expand and grow? Anything could upset the onions during their tenure in the garden, we read....admittedly on the internet.

Eventually, as was the case with most of these planning sessions, I would take a deep breath, stop trying to make sense of the diagrams, and start heading for the garden, ignoring Jenny's incessant desire to be "ready." There's no sense in waiting until I'm sure nothing can go wrong. I will never be absolutely certain that nothing will go wrong.

I can, however, be 100% certain that something will, most certainly, go terribly wrong, and I am.

That first patch of onions we planted didn't have a chance. We were way off on our additives, and the starters ended up growing decent green onions but nothing more. It was no matter. We didn't plant all of the starters there. A few weeks later we started a different crop mixed in with our garlic on a sloping area of the acreage that Jenny had used the sticks to terrace. The terracing allowed us to add enough to the soil to give the onions and garlic room to grow, and in the end we filled a room with onions and garlic after we harvested.

People talk a lot about their inability to start a project or make a life change because they aren't ready; I hear myself talking about being ready, about waiting until I'm fully prepared to take the next step, but I find the longer I wait, the more time I spend on the couch feeling sorry for myself, drowning in my depression because I'm not even really trying to swim.
The Garden a half a year later. The fruits of our risk.

So I try to keep moving. The world isn't going to stop turning for me to make sure I have all my ducks in a row. It's spinning pretty fast, actually, and we are all in a constant state of controlled falling. So, I put my seeds in the ground and take what I get.

Be faithful to your work, and be faithful to yourself, and with each misstep, you'll move closer to getting it.......right?

But don't expect to ever get know...just completely and totally right. In fact, now might be a good time to try to let go of the idea that there is such a thing.

No comments: