Green Scene Blog: Gardening the long way


We’ve been spending a lot of time digging and shoveling lately.

We’re expanding the garden to make up for the fact that our CSA is taking the year off—many square feet of lawn are becoming garden beds, courtesy of the large cutting mattock that lives in a perpetual state of muddiness in the shed. Though we considered renting a tiller or begging help from someone with a tractor, we ended up just turning over the soil by hand.

First you cut away the turf, then you loosen the soil to a depth of maybe six or eight inches. This is the “lazy” method—though it doesn’t feel that way when you’re executing it. The other method is to double-dig, which means personally getting to know the soil to a depth of two feet, and we fell out of love with that one years ago. Now, after the sod is removed, we basically just poke the soil and then throw down some beans. It seems to work just fine.

Meanwhile, most of the garden’s getting the horse manure treatment. We’ve been getting the stuff from a local stable, and using a long-handled spade to get into the bed of our pickup—one shovelful at a time—then back out, onto the beds or into the cart.

I think we both take a certain pride in doing repetitive manual labor like this; I know I enjoy the exercise. And I like the fact that it keeps us from relying on machines, with their demands for petroleum and their tendency to break down.

Still, when a neighbor offered to use a front loader to scoop some manure into our truck today, I jumped at the chance. There’s still plenty of exercise to be had.