There is nothing nicer than friends bearing food and wine when they come for a visit--Judy and Nicole with granola and a crate--especially at the end of a day of top-dressing the bed. I wish this meant that I had been taking the seersucker blanket covers out of the linen closet, but it is too early for that.
What all this top-dressing actually means is that I have turned against mulch. Last year’s cover has bleached and hardened, and doesn’t seem to be doing anything any good. So my weekend began with the delivery of three yards of rich, dark leaf compost. Three yards because I couldn’t think of what to say, when the fellow asked how much, so I vaguely waved my arms around.
Three yards in my yard looks enormous. I began to whine, internally, as there was no one around to listen, as soon as I saw the pile, deposited in my absence as far from the beds as possible without being at the neighbor’s house. I took my shiny red wheelbarrow (what other kind is there?) and a spade out of the garage. I filled the wheelbarrow, and then I couldn’t budge it. My whining turned into that soft, liquid whimpering that children do so well before they crack up--internally, of course, still no one around; it was pathetic. I hit a tripwire of negativity and anxiety and complaining and lack of self-esteem: no way would I be able to do this alone; it was going to require at least fifty trips back and forth; I didn’t have the upper body strength, that's what men are for, where are the men, anyway?; no stamina; not enough interest in this project; what was I thinking? Then I shoveled out half the contents of the barrow, and got to work.
This has been going on for four days, and I am nearly done. The first two days, when I looked at my pile, it seemed to have replenished itself overnight. But the work has not been as satisfying as I had hoped, mainly because the compost is not good enough. It came from an outfit that got it from one of those municipal programs that seem like a good idea at the time. You rake up your leaves (or rather, the lawn guys blow out your leaves), the town collects it, composts it, and sells it. Excellent, right? Wrong. I have been picking out shredded plastic, bits of glass, and pieces of metal. My garden seems to have been visited by the uninvited population of a coastal (there are lots of shells) suburban enclave. They littered. I have found: plastic food bags, garbage bags, plant tags, shards of light bulbs and bottles, balloons, gloves, ball point pens, bottle caps, baggie ties, & etc. Thinking about what goes on under the trees of leafy suburban enclaves of a summer night, I can imagine other shredded plastic-based items this stuff might contain, but I will spare you.
Still, this dressing (down) looks far better than mulch, and plastic aside, it is good for the soil. I will have to find a better, source of compost, but it will cost more. I am destined to go through this Sisyphean task all summer. This time I will spare myself the whinging. At least now I know how to wield a wheelbarrow.
As for the granola: what a treat. It fueled many trips. My friend Gabriel, who is Italian and knows about food, once told me Americans refrigerate too much. He never lets cheese get cold, for instance. Now I take the yogurt (the granola is for top dressing) out of the fridge the night before, so it is at room temp. The granola was made by Jessica Patrick and here is her recipe. Delicious, especially if someone gives you a tin. Thank you for bringing it over, Judy! What do you suggest, a nice Riesling?