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25 June, 2011

Garden: Part 2, Hardened Surfaces

Pretty Irrelevant Photo
I've spent more than my fair share of time removing gravel, sidewalk, and rocks to let soil kiss sky and revive again, but it's also my experience that a gardener needs some barren, hard places. Fully sun-baked if you can get it (and we are just now in that part of the year where that's possible, Pugeteers): harsh, a thirsty patch that won't drink any water, a callous upon the land.

Why? So you can kill weeds, first of all. In drought-strangled Virginia, I could toss a weed any old where and the sun would delight in beating the life out of it. Here, it might just as easily take root and manage to slip by and set seed. And even if the one laying on the driveway does have seeds, they're on concrete. A few may wash down to a crack or blow away to fertile ground, but mostly this is the end of the weed road.  Speaking of which, every time the car pulls in or out of the drive, the weeds get pulverized: first step on the soil road.

Because yeah, the hard-top better be helping me make soil, or I'd rip that shit out. I confess to being a dirt farmer, soil is my primary produce, everything else is after. My garden aspires to the urban homestead ilk, and I'd just as soon turn my weeds back into soil than put them in a bin for the city. Same with compost--am I just gonna give away my biomass? Huh-uh.
The Utilitarian Herb Dryer
The driveway may not be as pretty as the first photo, but it's a better herb dryer. Put 'em on the asphalt, and it goes even faster. This is where refinished furniture, paintings, screens wet from being cleaned (yeah, like I do that) and whatever else needs drying goes on a sunny day. 

And when it's not a sunny day, having a hard surface is still nice. To walk on without being in the mud. To let the rain wash the dirt off something. To send some sediment and water to that soil patch downslope. Level hardscapes rarely ever exist. You may think it is, but water will prove you wrong. Anyway, completely level slabs are for chumps. You want gravity and water to help you clean it off, and not just willy nilly. 

There's also something about a barren patch in the midst of a garden that provides balance. The hardness feeds soil's softness not just with organics and sediment, maybe, but metaphysically, or maybe that's just the sleep deprivation talking. The hard speeds the spin of the soil-weed-soil cycle, at any rate. Weeds thrown upon the altar sate the more ravenous of the soil gods.

So yeah. Gardens should have hard surfaces. For those and other reasons. I have no brilliant or pithy summation. What did you expect from someone who delves into a garden series with a post about barrenness and concrete, death and dessication? Stay tuned, it gets easier...

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