Čapek’s The Gardener’s Year: February

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February 18, 2013 by Kriscinda Lee Everitt

I realized that I can't exclude the illustrations, drawn by Čapek brother, Josef.

I realized that I can’t exclude the illustrations, drawn by Čapek brother, Josef.

If you missed the last installment, you should know that I am reading Karel Čapek’s The Gardener’s Year really, really slowly. By month, which is tough, because it’s such a slim little book.

Everything that exists is either suitable for the soil or it is not.

A couple of days ago, I jokingly chronicled the tremendous amount of deer crap around the property—all the manure that, when dropped off, probably just melted right through the snow and settled in a little pile of perfect pellets, waiting to be discovered after the snows have gone. The key word there is manure, and suddenly my funny little picture gallery became less funny, but more awesome. Less funny because I’d figured the deer-crap-photography would just be this one-off thing and that my interaction with deer crap would really end there, except in that I would try to avoid stepping in it. Now that my mother brought the composting/fertilizing possibilities to my attention, I can now look forward to the new and exciting winter/spring hobby of Deer Shit Hunting and Gathering. Thanks, mom! But, indeed, more awesome because: I’m gonna have a bitchin’ compost pile!

FebThirteenth201308And thanks Karel Čapek, for he goes on to say:

Only cowardly shame prevents the gardener from going into the street to collect what horses have left behind; but whenever he sees on the roadway a nice heap of dung, he sighs at the waste of God’s gifts.

Oh, Karel Čapek. I have no shame.

This is what my compost pile is going to look like.

This is what my compost pile is going to look like.

In the Great Deer Scat Gallery post, I listed some of the things we need to do in order to have a fairly fully-functioning garden this season. One of those tasks is to build a compost area. I’m pretty excited about it for a number of reasons (and it’s a good thing I’m excited, or else I might not be as keen as I am…and I am…about picking up deer shit).

I think I’d like to construct something relatively permanent, and also big enough to produce as much as I possibly can. The garden will be big, and it can only get bigger. And besides, there will be no shortage of leaves and grass clippings here, not to mention the massive amount of vegetable waste we produce—orange and grapefruit rinds, apple cores, wilted things, etc.

So, I’m thinking of using cinder blocks for the bins themselves, and following something like what’s pictured above. It’d be good to have space for stand-by materials, because there will be times in the year where I’ll have more than I’ll need right that second. The only thing I would add to this design is a big-ass space to pile unused compost while I use the bins to make more.

While Čapek’s February starts out more as an extension of his January (In February the gardener carries on with the jobs of January, especially in cultivating the weather.), the second half of this essay looks more to the soil, its quality, what goes into it, and, like all other aspects of gardening, borderlines on the obsessive. The next installment, in fact, will not be March! It will be on one or two short essays, Seeds, and maybe On the Art of Gardening, both of which are about to become very relevant.

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