Tuesday, October 9, 2012
New Garlic Ground
At first glance this looks like a strange location for a garden. The forest in the background extends almost to forever. Heading east one could walk in a straight line for three miles before encountering the first year round hard road. Traffic noise is nonexistent here. An occasional airplane is the only outside machine that violates the silence. It is possible to look in a full circle and see no buildings. Little imagination is needed to see this as pioneer farming. I now need the tractor to bring in the tools used to till the soil here but all of them are hand tools. Long views and solitude make this a delightful place to work.
Disease has made the garden near the house unsuitable for growing garlic. New ground and new seed were necessary if we were to continue growing garlic. The remains of squash vines in the right foreground are in the bed that grew garlic last year. Vines and weeds to the left mark this year's garlic bed. Two wheelbarrows are in the area being prepared for the next garlic planting. Brown grass clippings are killing the sod as the first step toward clearing next year's new soil.
Our basic method to open new ground is to first kill the sod. Then the stones are screened out. Waste stone builds great looking and fully functional garden paths. From them the growing beds can be worked without ever stepping onto the planting soil. The addition of woods soil, pond muck or compost completes the preparation of the planting area. Here I need to get a move on as the garlic should be planted next week.
Today digging revealed a puzzle. Under nearly a foot of brown topsoil, a layer of sticky yellow subsoil is revealed. Exactly how the glaciers laid down these different materials is not understood by us. It is possible that the topsoil was deposited long after the subsoil. Markings of an ancient fire were found under the topsoil. It could have been a natural burn. It could have been a prehistoric fire. It does not seem possible that it is a modern burn. There has been no disturbance of the soil here that deep. The circumstances surrounding this burn remain a puzzle. It seems unlikely that the remains of a fire would persist for a long period of time. It seems unlikely that the burn is recent since the soil is undisturbed.
In all of the soil sifting that I have done here, no Native American artifacts have ever been found. Lower ground near the river and the eel weir has yielded countless primitive points. A flint factory was located nearby opposite a feeder stream. A summer camp near the eel weir seems likely. It appears that all of the activity of these early residents here was concentrated near the river. Our stony hills saw little early activity. That diminishes the chances that the fire remains mark their presence here. So I ponder and dig surrounded by natures splendor.