Tuesday, August 14, 2012

sowing oats

Today was what I like to call a really fucking busy day.  I started the morning by writing about squash and how life passes us by sometimes, and then I spent an annoying half hour trouble shooting a problem in iMovie.  This was all procrastination, though I hate to call writing procrastination.  I just didn't want to start my day by grading outlines.  I wanted to start it with something that mattered to me.  Outlines matter to me, but writing about gardening matters a lot more.  I resolved the computer issue, graded half the outlines, and headed directly to a closet, a bandana tied around my face.  There was some drywall mud that needed to be sanded, and I sanded the hell out of it, creating a lot of powdery white dust in the process and narrowly avoiding cussing once or twice.  I put the shelves back into the closet and washed my hands of that odd job.  It was a nuisance and a neck ache.  I won't go into the details.  Instead, I'll tell you that I headed directly into town, clothes all dusty, to fetch some cigarette papers—I spilled a glass of water on my papers while sawing a board—and some red alfalfa seed.  Fifty-fifty: Cornucopia was out of red clover seed, but the head shop had papers. I drove home undeterred, rapidly finished grading my outlines, and then proceeded immediately to sow a cover crop among my dying corn and squash.  I was receiving text messages all the while.  

It was fine that Cornucopia was out of red clover seed because there is a bunch of it growing in my garden and a bunch more growing along the margin between my driveway and Ed's yard.  Where there is red clover, there is red clover seed.  We've established already how things are not rocket science.  What we haven't established is that basically, to collect the seed, you just look for the brown flowers and pull them off the plant.  The seeds are in there somewhere.  You don't need to go to all the trouble to hull the seeds.  Nature doesn't bother doing that and you don't need to either.  Just grab the brown flowers and muss them up with your thumbs.  Then throw them onto the dirt where you want red clover to grow, and that'll do the trick.  You should, however, do some tilling.  Before I sowed my oats and clover, I tilled the soil.

These are my oats.  They're not wild.  I bought them at the Hadley Garden Center.  I'm squinting at the bag in the photo now, and it looks like the oats were $2.49 per pound.  At that price, it's very likely that they're not organic oats, but organic-or-not was not on my mind while I sowed them.  I was thinking about the old saying, sowing one's wild oats.  I was throwing oats onto the soil by the handful.  There were so many of them!  I was throwing hundreds of oats at a time, a handful of them every few seconds.  The numbers were staggering.  I thought, God, what if I played around this much?  I would surpass Wilt Chamberlin in no time!  Wilt, if you don't know, claimed that he sowed more than 20,000 handfuls of oats in his lifetime, but I could have easily slam-dunked his record in an afternoon at the rate I was sowing them.  It was marvelous to think about how prolific nature is.  The sparrows, as I knew would happen, already got the memo about the oats, and as I type this they are hunting and pecking around for loose grains in the dirt.  That is how nature works, my friends.

Even though I added some straw to conceal the oats, the birds are still on point.  You can't fool a hungry bird with some straw, nor can you fool a hungry gardener by dangling a plastic radish in front of him.  If I keep typing out this blog, I am going to become drunk.  I am just about two afternoon beers deep and I need some dinner pronto.  I would like to talk about trials and tribulations of dating, but I am too hungry for that, and I am much better finding metaphors for life in the dirt.  I need to eat something.  Food is very important.  


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