The Gore in My Garden.

In my dreams I am a masterfully organized and disciplined human.

Incan stone retaining walls, making agricultural terraces. The angled “dots” are stones to step on, that extend out from the wall’s main plane. Photo by Sue Hruby. 

In reality I come nowhere near to my ideals.

In the garden at Wishetwurra Farm, Organization and Disintegration are in constant interplay. When the first part of the garden was started, about forty years ago, it was a 30′ x 40′ rectangle. Its recent expansion to three times that size began about fifteen years ago, when a friend gave me a present. A dump truck load full of manure. That load, spread out, didn’t exactly end up with regular dimensions. The garden is now a trapezoid, extending a hundred feet, more or less, on the two long, east and west sides, but tapering from ninety feet wide at the north end to forty feet wide at the south.

This “new” section has beds that build in parallel from each long side. Which leaves a triangular patch in the middle. Organizational attempts in this place are mysteriously lost. So I call it the Bermuda Triangle. One result of the odd shape is that efforts at improving soil fertility here have been scattershot and slipshod. Last year’s attempt used horse manure mixed with wood chips, which in the long run isn’t bad, but which in the short term doesn’t do much, as the wood chips, in order to decompose, take up the nitrogen in the manure. That leaves little readily-available food for whatever you try to plant.

The triangle contained the worst dirt in the garden, and called out for a fertility project.

The triangle at the start of rehab. Sunflower and squash in the rear, dying Ozark Beauty strawberry patch in the middle, and in the front it’s just a storage place for used pea fencing. Part the front has had a half load of manure layered into the the dirt.

There’s a recipe I’ve been using for garden bed rehab. Which is: dig out dirt, apply eight inches of manure, add a couple of inches of dirt, then another layer of manure, then another layer of dirt, then another layer of manure. On top of last layer of manure, plant oats, peas, beans, and buckwheat, and sprinkle a thin layer of seaweed or hay on top. The cover crop grows until winter kills it. By next spring, the two foot thick cake you’ve made has settled down to half its original height. Rake off the wispy dead cover, and you are ready to grow something nice.

It’s a labor-intensive job, but work and hauling are keys to a good garden.

Stage one of the Triangle Rehab project. Manure and dirt are layered up and planted to cover crop. Just for grins, there’s a late-season hill of summer squash. Maybe we’ll get some late-September pickings from it. (Note the whining paths on each side.)

Once the inner triangle was completed, the paths started to whine. “Feed us, feed us!”, they cried. Unable to resist, I started hauling. As of this post, the triangle has consumed eight or nine loads of manure, and is begging for two or three more.

Here is the triangle this morning.

The dirt is already improved to the point where the “broccoli diver” has returned.

Some of you will remember last spring, when the “broccoli diver” made its first appearance. Something’s not quite right with the legs on this one. Too much yoga, perhaps.

So what’s this “gore” stuff?

Those of you who sew know what a gore is.

So do you surveyors.

The State of New Hampshire has some famous Gores.

None of this post has anything to to with Al Gore, even though today’s topic could be said to be about earth in the balance…

Since I’m feeling mean today, you’ll have to go look the word up yourself.


One response to “The Gore in My Garden.

  1. Hello Tom!

    Fortunately for your “table” your agricultural ministrations far exceed your pedantry!

    Would you believe that our house is located on a gore? A bit larger than yours, but a gore nonetheless!

    Miriam and I spent most of the week before Labor Day on eastern Long Island, essentially vegging and watching the white and blue herons, ducks, swans, and kingfisher making a living from the “aquafauna” that thrives in the cove where the house is. I should also mention the seagulls that scooped up “clams” of some kind, dropped them on rocks, and then scooped out the luscious reward found within. Made me want to have some raw oysters! We did enjoy a lobster dinner one evening, but I did not have to “smash” it on the floor or on some rocks to enjoy it! I also kayaked around the cove and found an abandoned butterfly net in a marsh that I brought back to the house. Absolutely perfect weather and a great way to have a “last hurrah” this summer!

    Now I am “back at it” working for Simmons and engaged in committees and stuff in the town.

    We are off to Grand Rapids, MI, on the 14th to attend the wedding of Tory’s eldest grandchild, Meghan. She was a “runaway bride” in 2010, but it looks like she will show up at the church this time, but with a different groom. If she “bolts” this time, we are still going to Grand Rapids to visit family, since we have airline tickets all lined up.

    Good eye to spot the giant swallowtail on the Vineyard! Great photo, too!

    All good wishes to Christine and to you,



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