A New Year means …

a new flowerbed!

Sitting in on the Living Seeds Designed for Life Workshop in Uganda was quite motivating for me. Although I’ve always loved the outdoors, even if not to the same degree as my sister, and loved gardening, even if not with the same success as my sister, I lacked motivation and new ideas. The workshop was a catalyst for action. I came home, thought through my yard and garden situation.  I came up with some serious changes and a plan of action. I wrote them down, mulled them over and then set them aside. Okay, so maybe I’ve only had them really solidified for six weeks but that seems like forever. Every time I’d head out to get started something would come up. I’d get sick. I’d need to do something more pressing. I often over-committed myself.  I had a thousand and one excuses but today, the first day of the year seemed as good a time as any to start.

My sister,Gretchen added to the motivation factor by sending a cutting from my grandfather’s rose-bush to me a couple of weeks ago.  I planted it in a pot for the winter but it needs a permanent home.  I have always loved growing roses and actually have always had excellent success with them. Here in Houston I have never gotten a good rose bed started. My grandfather’s rose-bush gave me an extra push to get my rose bed built.

I decided to do it the “Gene Tate method”. Okay, a modified “Gene Tate method.” Where Gene would say just start piling stuff on top of the ground where I wanted my flower bed I instead chose to remove the top 1-1/2 inches of grass and roots first. I fight grass too much as it is and a little extra effort now helps guarantee that I’ll have less of a problem this summer. I know my grass!  I then added about three inches of wood chips to the bed.

Last summer I had a tree cut down.  It was a Sweetgum tree, what I call a trash tree.  Sweetgums are not bad-looking trees but they produce “gumballs”, little seed pods that cover the ground everywhere in the fall.  In addition this particular tree had a hollow at its base that was collecting water which made it a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  The hollow also was creating a weak trunk and since we live in a hurricane area we didn’t want the tree to go down in a strong wind.  The tree came out and I had the stump ground down.  It made a huge pile of wood chips/sawdust.  This pile was about eight feet in diameter and stood about four feet high.  It was a huge stump and created a lot of sawdust and chips.  I just let it sit there for about four months and it slowly settled to about two feet in height.  When I dug into the wood chips/sawdust to put it on the new bed I found that nature had done its job and the wood chips under the surface had turned into a lovely compost!  There are still a few bits that haven’t decomposed but most of it was a rich dark compost that nature had produced all on its own.

I had to stop and wonder… just why hadn’t I been making compost all the time?  If it’s this simple in our climate what has kept me from doing it?  A new lesson for the new year.  Sometimes things you think are hard and time-consuming are not.

I haven’t finished the flower bed yet.  I need to add a few layers of “stuff” to it.  I’m going to add a little soil, some leaves, and mulch to hold it all in place over the winter then it will sit and “prepare” for this spring when I plant my grandfather’s rose-bush and others in it.

The next project…. real compost bins.  In my neighborhood we have “standards”, those Homeowner’s Association Rules, that we have to abide by.  A pile of leaves and “stuff” won’t pass muster but nicely organized bins will.  I’m thinking a little effort and organization and all those leaves that fill my yard will become rich organic compost.

Going to Uganda was an adventure for me.  It changed my perspective on much of my life.  It showed me a different part of the world, a different culture, and  made me reevaluate what I found important in life.  I know many people go on mission trips to help save the world, to help the “poor people.”  I honestly didn’t go with those purposes or those expectations.  Having had children and many relatives go on mission trips I knew that the experience was going to change me more than change the world.  I expected the mental challenges, the spiritual challenges and all the other internal changes that I have experienced.  I expected the trip to change me in the spiritual sense.  I didn’t expect it to change me in the practical daily life ways.

A bonus change.

I wonder what the next one I discover will be.

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1 Response to A New Year means …

  1. Love that you’re making compost by accident. I’ve been composting in my little tiny townhome patio garden for several years. I actually had to buy worms to get it started as our dirt was worm-less for some reason. Years later, we are thriving. Regular watering, lots of leaves, and the addition of a rabbit have made our dirt something quite special! Can’t wait to see your roses in bloom next year, er, I mean this year.

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