In Which I Have Done a Thing I Have Wanted to Do For More Than Ten Years

published on Apr 27, 2019


The boy and I (oldest, age 18), drove into Charlotte with my trailer and stack of cardboard today, and we met a very friendly man driving a very intimidatingly gigantic tractor, who dumped a literal ton of compost into the trailer and gave us good advice on getting it home safely.

We got it home safely.

A week or two ago, the frame you see in the above picture had been assembled, and then it had fallen apart. I had used screws I already had that were too small for the job. For the repair, I overcompensated by choosing rather spectacularly long screws.

Take that as you will.

Ahem. So anyway, about that ten years mentioned in the title. More than ten years ago we moved from a house that had a reasonably okay backyard for gardening to one that was much better in many other regards, but was terrible for gardening. It was mostly wooded, partly covered in periwinkle, and far too shady.

Then we moved out of that house and rented for far longer than I wanted to.

Lack of reasonable garden space is rather hard on a person who needs to get their hands dirty on a regular basis.

When we bought this house, Carey bought a kitchen. I bought a fig tree and a yard.

And now that yard's becoming a garden. At last!

So, anyway. Pictures.

Many moons ago, I learned about no-till gardening, and I have never done it any way since. Tilling is bad for soil structure and bad for soil fauna and just bad in general.

So what I do is build a frame, and cover the ground under the planned bed with cardboard, making sure to remove tape and any other non-organic matter.

In true lasagna-style gardening, you'd then lay down "green" organic matter like kitchen scraps and lawn clippings, and then layer "brown" organic matter like straw over that and wait for it all to decompose in place.

But I've got baby tomato plants that need a proper home stat, so ain't nobody got time for that.

Enter the already composted compost.

Ultimately, the garden will consist of four beds, each 4 x 10 feet, giving me 160 square feet of space. There's room enough to build up to another two or possibly three beds if I get ambitious, but 160 sq feet is probably plenty for me, really.

Between the beds, I will continue to layer cardboard and then lay wood mulch, which will require another trip to compost central, and will create reasonably weed-free paths that won't have to be mowed.

Other than some logistical help and the beloved company of my son on the trip to and from Compost Central and the help of another beloved son (age 11) in rebuilding one of the beds, I did all of this myself. Yes, I feel like a badass. Yes, that's a lot of shoveling. No, I did not injure my back.

Which reminds me I want to write a post about my health, but that's for another day. Suffice to say, my health is good right now.

Which is good, because I've still got that cabin to build this summer.

TAGS: lasagna gardening
fen pic

Fen Druadìn

Fen Druadìn (they/them) is anamchara, storyteller, dragon, student of trees, and a breaker of generational curses.

Fen's mission here is to love and remember themself completely, connect deeply with the world, and help others do the same for themselves.

Fen connects deeply with the universe through their relationship with a sacred land in the Appalachians of North Carolina, and shares messages here and elsewhere. When not in the woods, they can be found on Facebook and Patreon.

If you feel led and are able, you can support Fen's work in any of these ways:

  • Monthly financial support via Patreon
  • Make a one-time donation via CashApp ($FenDruadin) or Venmo (username FenDruadin).
  • Make a one-time donation via Paypal (please choose "friends and family" to avoid fees)
  • Share their Facebook content with your networks, and/or like and comment
  • Follow this blog

You can also contribute to the work of reconnecting with yourself and the world in any or all of these ways:

  • Stand in front of a mirror, look in your eyes, and say, "I love you." Repeat daily for as long as it takes
  • Send your love to the trees and stones and water and Earth
  • Spend time in quiet meditation with a plant or stone person, and listen for messages
  • Clean up litter in your neighborhood and/or engage in other acts of environmental restoration
  • Build a personal relationship with the plants and animals in your area by spending time with them and listening for their messages and responding to their needs
  • Reconnect with your own strength and power and truth via meditative practice such as yoga, guided meditation, chanting, drumming, dance, or any other tool that feels right and helps you ground and connect
  • Engage in this community and/or other communities committed to re-establishing our right relationship with ourselves and the earth

Wherever you are, on your journey and in your life, may you be well, may you be at peace, and may you always find the next good step.

More about Fen

More Essays

Regular insights on creativity and the creative process.