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Posts Tagged ‘vegetable gardening’

Writing Compost

 

7July growth
Spring is in the air at long last! The birds are getting amorous. It won’t be long till the bees will be out pollinating their little socks off. It’s that time of year. Yup, that very fecund, fertile time of year when a woman’s thoughts turn to … compost!

 

Yup! You heard me right. It’s time, once again, to give some serious thought to compost. Most of you know by now that I’m an avid veg gardener. I’ve flooded social media with images of ripe, succulent strawberries, flirtatiously phallic courgettes and full-bodied, mouthwatering sweet corn. I’ve told tales of the allotment – some of them dirtier than others, and I’ve even written a fair few sexy encounters that take
cucumber 17 aug 1mail.google.complace in veg gardens. Gardening is one of the topics I’m almost as enthusiastic about as I am writing. That’s not terribly surprising since the two are so philosophically compatible. So today, in honor of the beginning of Spring, I’m talking compost.

 

My husband and I inherited our first composter from the people who owned our house before us. We were suspicious of it at first and more than a little intimidated by it. It looked like a Rubbermaid Dalek casting a long menacing shadow across our back lawn. We’d heard that if we put egg shells and fruit and veg peels, cardboard and tea and coffee grounds in the top that in a few months, we could open the little door at the bottom and the myriad resident worms would have magically transformed all that garbage into rich luscious soil. Then all we’d have to do was
shovel all that organic loveliness out into our garden.

Harvest 25 AugIMG00569-20130825-1722

I’ll admit, we were skeptical at first – I mean seriously – egg shells and veg peels in and rich, luscious compost out? I mean that’s just crazy talk, surely! Still, we did as instructed, every day adding coffee grounds and tea bags and other goodies worms and invertebrates love to chow down on. Then one day we took the plunge, slid open the door and there it was, all dark and rich and soft and warm, and smelling vaguely of citrus. We filled a couple of planters. We were planning to put in geraniums, but never got around to it. Several weeks later I noticed there were tomato plants coming up in the compost we had excavated. My mother used to call plants that came up where they weren’t planted volunteer and, sure enough, we had eight volunteer tomato plants, the result of seed not broken down in our strange compost-making Dalek.

 
We never did get our geraniums, but it didn’t really matter. Our eight tomato plants
yielded up their yummy fruit at the end of the summer, an unexpected, unintended First ripe toms 10 Aug 2013IMG00572-20130910-0951gift from our predecessors. The next year we actually dug a bed and planted corn and beans and squash. After that there was no looking back. Our one lone composter has been joined by three others, and twice a year we open the doors at the bottom and marvel at what an army of invertebrates can make from our kitchen waste.

 

The next year, as my sister and I shoveled bucket after bucketful of rich, loamy soil from our original battered, smudged composter and spread it in anticipation of the veg I’d be planting in May, I thought about how much writing is like composting. There are times when my efforts truly seem inspired. Those are the fabulously heady
times all writers live for and hope for, when every word shines the moment we write it down.

 

I would love it if everything I wrote would come forth fully formed and beautiful like Venus on the Half Shell, but more often than not my words are more like used teabags on an egg shell. More often than not, what I write is kitchen rubbish, the remnants of experiences already spent, the detritus of half-formed ideas that aren’t quite what I fantasized when they appeared so perfectly shaped in my imagination. Somehow they’ve turned to apple cores and coffee grounds by the time I manage to get them into words.

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My husband takes his lunch to the office, and he brings home his fruit peels and apple cores because he knows what they will become. He convinced the lady who
works at the office canteen to save the coffee grounds for him because he knows what the worms will magic them into in a few months’ time. It’s true, what we dig out of our composters is technically just worm poop. Oh, but it’s so rich, so fertile, so completely loaded with potential. My husband knows, as I know, what wonderfully succulent corn and tomatoes and green beans we’ll grow in that rich compost in a few months’ time.

 

Writing is no different. On the written page, the coffee grounds and apple cores of my everyday existence, the remnants of half formed thoughts, the grandiose ideas that didn’t quite have the magic on paper that they did in my minds’ eye will become compost, no matter how much they may seem like rubbish. Nothing can happen until I write those words down — no fermentation, no agitation, no digestion, no chemistry.

 

Writing imageBut once the ideas are words on the written page, the real process begins. I turn them and twist them and break them down and reform them until they become the rich luscious medium of story, until they are just the right consistency to grow organically
what my imagination couldn’t quite birth into the world in one shining Eureka
moment. It takes longer than Venus on the Half Shell, and it involves some hard work and some getting my hands dirty, and a whole lot of patience. But the end result is succulent and full bodied, organic and living. And my finger prints, my dirty mucky finger prints are all over it. It’s intimately and deeply my own, seeded in the compost of what I put down in a hurry, raised up in the richness of what I then cultivate with sustained, deliberate, sometimes desperate, effort. The result is achingly slow magic that lives and breathes in ways I could have never brought about, ways I could have never experienced in a less messy, less composty sort of way.

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 Happy Spring, everyone! May your compost be rich and your yields be fabulous.

 

It’s Time for Garden Porn!

From the Archives

Two words…garden porn. Oh yes! I’m most definitely addicted. Do you have any idea how many luscious, deliciously explicit garden sites there are? Though I like pretty flowers just fine, and though plump red strawberries are enough to get my heart rate up, what really gets me going, what really makes me quiver all over is vegetables. My, oh my, how I love to look at sites that sell vegetables, or sites that give advice on how to grow vegetables, or sites that show photos of really well put-together veg gardens. Does it get any better than that?

Oh, and the garden centres! I adore the earthy scent of fresh compost and fertilizer, of greenhouse heat and rank, growing plants, all overlaid with the scent of espresso from the coffee shop. And it’s not just the scent that I love, it’s the feel of a quality wooden handled hoe or garden fork resting in the relaxed but firm, grip of my hand. Some are designed especially for a lady’s light hand, while others are thick and long and manly. There are metres and meters of gossamer thin garden fleece all ready to caress my plants with that peek-a-boo hint of what lies beneath on a frosty spring night. There are multi-coloured, oh so soft, gloves to protect my hands while I’m groping and tugging in a weedy bed.

And the plants. This time of year plants that aren’t just loaded with gaudy blooms already are heavy and swollen with buds about ready to burst. Stiff phallic shoots are coming up everywhere, and the heady scent of new growth is intoxicating.

Personally, I don’t think it’s any surprise at all that I go both ways – erotic writer and vegetable gardener. We’re talking about the best of both worlds here. And inspiration, Wow! My seedlings are mostly in the mini greenhouses now, but when they first push up through the soft potting compost with just the tiniest hint of pale plant flesh pressing through the glossy black earth, it’s a teasing par excellence. My breath catches, my heart races and I’m positively bouncing with excitement.

I’ve written about naughty things to do with carrots and courgettes, and I’ve written about kink amid the topiary. It’s true, getting down and dirty among the growing things makes me hot and sometimes sore. I planted runner beans today, squatted in the rich earth, digging and watering and patting in place. There’s still dirt under my nails and my shoulders ache. Yes, it was good for me.

Sweet Corn on paradeIt’s true — I like the heat and the dirt, but what I like best of all is that the Muse hangs out in the vegetable garden. When I’m getting down and dirty in the beans, the Muse whispers fabulous naughtiness, amazing imaginative titillating tales in my ear. She’s practically giving it away, when I’m up to my knuckles in compost. I think the Muse likes garden porn too. It makes her  loose and easy with her ideas, and there I am hunkered down amid the weeds and the beans, completely unsuspecting of what she’s about to whisper to me. It’s always hot, and she always makes it good for me. Oh yes. I do like garden porn. I can hardly wait to write down all that she whispered in my ear while I took my pleasure planting beans.

Just a little added note: Keziah Hill informed me that there is an actual site called Garden Porn. I just checked it out. A site where the ‘Hortisexuals’ hang out is my kind of site

 

Getting My Hands Dirty

The mini greenhouse all clean with new covers. Seedlings in the first one.

I drive myself crazy writing sometimes. I’m tunnel-visioned, and I don’t always know when to call a halt. I’ve kept my head down for the first three months of this year. I’ve written hard, and long, and lots — plus the PR. But there comes a time when a girl just has to get her hands dirty before she can write another word. This is that time!

My husband and I spent a good chunk of our day working in our veg patch – well our future veg patch. At the moment there are only a few over-wintering cauliflower and broccoli plants remaining, and a strawberry patch sorely in need of cleaning. At the moment the whole of 2012’s veg garden can be contained in two large draining trays and part of one mini greenhouse, all zipped in for extra warmth. But in a few months, my-oh-my, you won’t recognize the place. We’ll have sweet corn higher than our heads, tomato plants ladened with a dozen different varieties from all over the tomato growing world; we’ll have tee-pees of climbing beans and peas, vines of yellow and green courgettes and multiple varieties of brassicas. That’s not even counting the soft fruit and the dwarf root stock apple trees. I know, I know! Now I’m just bragging!

We’ve got trays of seeds planted and sitting on water bottles in the kitchen (our low tech, unorthodox

Newly planted seeds all toasty on their water bottles.

system to speed up germination.) What has already germinated has had a week or two to grow on in the house and was transplanted today into our mini greenhouses, which are now soaped, scrubbed and sporting new plastic covers. My husband has potted eight large pots of seed potatoes (with our limited space, we grow spuds in pots), and the dreaming and scheming of what will go where is well under way.

As we scrubbed and planted and labelled seed trays, the resident blackbird made short work of any worms that were uncovered as we cleaned the patio and did a bit of weeding in the main bed. He and the Mrs are feeding chicks, so he came and went, each time filling his beak full to overflowing. When he wasn’t hunting and gathering, he was perched in the ash trees above our garden singing loudly just in case any other blackbird should doubt this this nice piece of real estate, where he gets fed currents and meal worms on demand, belongs to him. I hope my timing is good. I hope that by the time the chicks fledge I’ll have large courgette leaves and tee-pees ladened in runner beans for them to scurry about underneath and hide.

Ready to go to the greenhouses

The whole back garden is alive. There are three starling nests in the eaves and a nuthatch coming and going on a regular basis, as well as tits and doves and wood pigeons, who brazenly nip at the leaves of the cauliflower plants whenever they feel like it.

My husband has convinced the people who run the canteen at his office to save him their coffee grounds. All winter long, several times a week he came home bearing a large yellow plastic bucket full of coffee grounds, which he spreads over the garden. We joked about the worms being hyped up on caffeine. And I still smile to think about my husband, the very dapper business man, walking to and from his office several times a week carrying a large yellow bucket.

Tonight I feel better. Tonight I feel more like my writerly self again. What is it about

I'm anticipating

getting my hands in the earth that is so healing? Perhaps it’s a different kind of creativity, a kind in which I’m really only a facilitator. I can make sure the conditions are right. But what it takes for a paper thin, nearly weightless, not much bigger than the head of a pin, tomato seed to grow into a chest-high plant ladened with heavy, meaty, luscious fruit, well that’s something else altogether, and something that astounds me and amazes me every single time it happens. A new season is just beginning. The process is just getting started, and I’m like a kid at Christmas time, just waiting for it all to unfold again.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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