Being as it's hot (and dry) season, any variety we had in terms of fruits and vegetables is now limited to: onions, mangoes, and tomatoes . . . with a pineapple, a head of cabbage and a few puny carrots here or there. But the rains are coming (soon) and that means it's Garden Season!
Nearly a month ago I fired my gardener. We sort of had a conflict of interest . . . I wanted a fruitful garden, he had trouble taking orders from a single woman. So, when his trial period ended, I decided not to renew the contract (let's just say that is a story for another day).
Instead of hiring one of the other men who works for a family or two on the compound, I opted for the daughter of a guy, that works in the workshop. She's been watering and raking for someone else here for a little while, and seems to do a good job. Figured then if I wanted 'gardening' type work done, I could hire someone for a morning to come in a do one specific job, then that's the end of it.
So, Saturday, the father of my new gardeness and five of his 8 sons came to churn up my backyard and make it something workable. In three hours they had not only churned up the soil and removed all the rocks and debris, but had built in a functional irrigation system, much like the one they use out in the fields. They even transplanted tree cuttings!
M. recommended that I purchase six barrels of manure, which were then hauled in and he spread what was necessary in each square . . . . leaving me with 4 1/2 barrel-fulls just piled up attracting flies.
Since my gardeness doesn't come on the weekend, yesterday morning the task of irrigating my new farm in order to keep it ready for the seedlings growing on my livingroom floor landed on me. It was supposed to be easy: block off the water flow to all but one square at a time (there are currently sixteen squares), once it's flooded, seal up the gap in the mud wall and open up another one further down the slope.
M. had told me it's best if I re-churn the soil with the layer of manure once each square is wet . . . to make it a little easier. So that was the plan: flood the field then churn in the fertilizer. Easy.
As I was pulling the hoses to the edge of the irrigation ditch, a genius plan came to me. It would be even easier if I opened a whole in the mud wall of each square . . . should take the same amount of time over all to fill, but would save me the hassle of getting my hands dirty.
But as the title of this post already adequately points out, I'm no farmer.
My water-the-garden-quicker-and-with-less-effort scheme was working. It was slow, but each of the 16 squares was starting to get wet. The first square was filling the fastest, so I picked up the hoe (a FredFlintstone-like club with a funky metal blade protruding from the top) and began hacking at the manure coated soil. With the first blow the ground split easily . . . so easily that it splattered all over me.
Something you should know, I've always loved playing in the mud! Even as a little girl. But somewhere in the growing-up process a switch flipped . . . and while I love that squish your toes in the mud feeling, I detest everything that follows that split-second of happiness . . . I can't STAND having anything on my hands or feet . . . I hate the feeling! What can I say, I have texture issues.
So with that first splatter, I quick ran to the hose and rinsed off my hands, feet, arms, legs, and face; picked up my hoe and got back to it.
By my third or fourth drop-everything-and-run-to-rinse I realized I had to make a choice. Either put down the hoe or suck it up and be dirty. I looked up at the 15 remaining squares and decided my texture issues would win this one.
My irrigating scheme was equally unsuccessful. I would either have to go square-by-square, or spend the next two hours keeping waterways freeflowing.
I opted to seal the holes-in-the-walls and start square-by-square.
What I didn't think about was the reality that the ground surrounding the water's entrance was now quite muddy . . . and though the thick layer of manure on top gave the appearance that, while wet, the ground was still solid.
I lunged into the first square to seal the hole . . . and I just kept going!
SQQQQQQQUUUUUUUUUUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISH! I was shin-deep in cow-sheep-donkey-and-camel droppings! (How's that for texture issues!?!?)
By the end of the morning my once-green-now-brown long flowy skirt was tied up above my knees, I had given up the fantasy of churning and resigned myself to the reality that I was covered in animal poop.
And now, thanks to the middle-of-the-night-wind-storm at 4am, those 4 1/2 piles of dried manure that were in my backyard are now a film coating my bookshelves and table and livingroom floor.