Thursday, May 18

Domestic Archeology

When I was a child, I wanted to be a paleoanthropologist when I grew up. I wanted to discover ancient humanoid fossils! Later, after college, my interests turned to classical mediterranean archeology. I wanted to spend my summers digging up ancient cities. Well, after the last month, I've changed my tune. In addition to the near constant digging up lawn to make way for flower and vegetable beds, I've been battling with a beast. The fence bar that wouldn't come out.

When I first started the project, I oh-so-naively thought it had fallen at some point and was simply buried in the dirt. But no.... I dug and I dug, it wouldn't budge. I started to get the idea that it was buried in concrete. First I had to dig out the old paving stones. It was so fascinating to uncover the big, beautiful stones that used to line the alley and how carefully they were fitted together. I reused them as the edgers for my backbed and the home for my moss garden.

Finally, in the fourth week of excavation, I succeeded! Here is the result:

One side is relatively smooth and flat, but the rest seems like someone dug a hole, filled it with fragments of brick, marble, and oyster shells then poured sandy concrete in. Was this some tradition in the 40s or 50s that I don't know about? Not putting the first fencebar in straight? Was it structurally supporting the fencepost? With the beast out, I built a little retaining wall out of bricks we had in the basement:

Because we "weedwhack" this area, I wanted to make difference between my plants and the weeds clear. Then I got on with the regular business of gardening: amending the soil with vermiculite and composted manure, then planting the seeds.

Hopefully someday, this will be a lush garden of climbing nasturtiums and sweetpeas in the back, marguerite and marigolds in the middle, surrounded by a groundcover of pennyroyal. The little bush looks like a peony, but it has no flowerbuds. I thought I'd give it a chance and see what it can grow into.

So, now that I know I'm not cut out for digging for a living, I can rule out my dream career of archeology, as well as do whatever I can to stay off the chain gang. But what about my dream of becoming an organic gardener? Or a goat farmer? Can I do those things without constantly wielding the shovel? Maybe I could find some big strong men who could help me...


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