Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2017 - 64
In the garden
It's a Dirty Rotten Job
To rot is to live...
Text and art by Ginny Neil
I didn't grow up with a vegetable garden or
extensive flower garden in my backyard. My mother is an artist and,
while she grows a beautiful herb
garden, her interest in flowers has
been centered more on the painting of them. If I could grow flowers as
beautiful as those she splashes skillfully
on her watercolor pad, I'd be happy.
My Nana and Papa were the gardeners. I spent summers with them, snapping beans, thumping melons,
plucking strawberries and snipping zinnias. My Papa
grew up on and inherited a farm called Rosebower, and
my grandmother embraced it when she married him.
Their vegetable and flower gardens remain vividly productive in my memory.
When I married My Own Farmer, I knew what a beau64 BlueRidgeCountry.com
tiful garden should look like, but I had years to go and
lots of failures to learn from before mine came close to
resembling the ones at Rosebower. One of the tricks I am
working on mastering is the art of composting.
When I stayed with them, Nana always sent me out
in the evenings to dig a small trench in the garden where
I deposited the peelings, rinds and cores of the day's
meals. The trench didn't have to be too deep, so I would
scrape it out with a trowel, lay the scraps to rest and bury
them, stomping on them for good measure.
I can't make trench compost at my house because my
dog is an epicure. He digs the trenches up. Luke loves
corn and melons and green beans, so a trench full of
scraps is like a vegetarian cafeteria line for him. In deference to this, I built two bins out of discarded pallets and
started composting in them.
My first attempt was to make what's called a hot pile.