The Constant Gardener

Introduction: The Constant Gardener

About: I made a beer mug with only a knife and a hatchet. I think that says a lot about me.

'We'll start the Apocalypse here' was what we said when the old world went in lockdown.

Like all of you we had plans & projects for this year and like all of you we tried to anticipate the flaws. This pandemy however wasn't exactly part of the plan. We had been planning a lot of things but sometimes reality overrules fiction.

Survival is the power to adapt, so instead of preparing our move to a new life project off grid in the mountains - which was supposed to be our 2020 - we decided to live our project at home. Worrying about what you're loosing is one thing, trying to make the best out of it another. Never waste a good crisis.

We didn't have our own veggie garden, in these early days of march 2020. For some reasons we had never taken time to start one, or for some reasons we just weren't ready. So right first day of lockdown that veggie project was set on the rails. Fight the monster. No backing down. Positive attitudes.

This instructable will be a brief summary of another one I'm praparing. This one will reflect on a few physical aspects of working in the garden in general, and about starting a small permaculture project in particular.

This instructable focusses on the body. The next one on the permaculture project itself.

Hope you've got a nice read. Stay safe.

Step 1: Grelinette Days

Since our mountain project was based on small scale, durable, fossil free basics, sortof, there was no way this lockdown project would be different. Manmade. All of it. No gasoline no horses no child labor. This was going to be my personal war. The jungle became my meta phor the virus...

I was going to fight it, transform it and collaborate with the new creation.

First all these grasses had to go. 60 square meters of thick deep rooted grass on a clay soil. Using a spade wasn't even an option. Not for the efficiency not for my back, so I did what all permaculturalists do when they start: building a 'grelinette' - one of the basic tools in permaculture.

It's basically an off set soil claw, named after its inventor. My must weigh about 15 kilo - I welded a lot of steel in it. Never underestimate your enemy.

Smash that grely in the ground, lever, pivot and repeat.

These grelinette days were my first serious workout after winter. Works like a gream, that thing. Good stimulus for your shoulders & arms, saves your back. Science has it.

Step 2: Mental Benefits

Once this whole grass cover had been loosened and teared of its support all these grassheads had to be cleaned. One by one, smashing them on my wooden makeshift anvil, removing all the soil trapped in the roots.

Good days anyway. Flowering cherry trees, not one single car or truck on the roads, not one single plane in the sky.

Never underestimate the olympic spirit - that healthy mind in a healthy body thing, you know. Never underestimate the power of useful workouts. Lifting cast steel is one thing. Swinging a 2kg felling axe another. Or smashing a heavy grelinette in the soil whole day. Sweet bonuses for mental benefits.

Step 3: Permaculture

Permaculture is a way of organic farming where you've got your soil covered, all the time. A naked 'clean' soil will be baked & rayed by sunlight, sterilised & dehydrated. Naked soils are dead soils, mineral supports without life, without all these organisms that make your soil healthy & fertile, breaking down organic matter to minerals and aerating by digging & tunneling. Have a look at forest soils, covered with leaves & branches, rich, spongy, humid, full of life.

Permaculture is based on these same basics. No wicked tricks. Low impact interferences. Covering the soil with organic matter, inviting fungi, insects, birds & mammals, combining veggies, flowers & trees, creating a rich self sustaining ecosystem in your backyard. Some plants will protect others, some will attract insects you don't want on others. Permaculture is based on natural solutions. No pesticides no herbicides. Common sense, knowledge & respect.

Two weeks of pretty hard labour to come to this result. 60 square meters of potential, waiting to be filled with veggies.

Step 4: Adding Value

A healty soil is a living soil, again. A healthy soil is a covered soil, again. Use bark chips, leaves, straw or hay, whatever, just put on top of it. Tiny animals and the natural process of decomposing will do the rest. You never work alone in permaculture, nature is your allie.

We only transformed one part of our parcel - one since we are novices in the field and two because we kept the other as our hay stock. Remove it at one place and love it at another. Let it grow, cut it down, let it dry and add to your garden.

Fossil free it is, our battle. I didn't have a scythe to mow these 2000 square meters tho, so one day I thought about hacking a worn out wood saw.

Natural willow fork + wood saw = one scythe. Never thought that thing would actually work. Never thought that thing would outperform my wildest expectations.

Best workouts ever. Swing it lay it down, row by row, sharpening with the file now & then and go for one more row.

No more beer body added to this body. And a reinforced bassin, strong shoulders and one good spirit.

Never underestimate the benefits of useful workouts, again.

Step 5: Small Victories

Mowing is one thing, hauling it to your veggies another. It keeps you busy it keeps you healthy. And you're not poisoning the hood with the noise of your mower anymore. Bonuses for peace & biceps.

Life doesn't need to be more than that, right? We're working out because we're biased by commercial body standards, trying to fill our inner voids by external layers and hoping nobody will notice our inner misery.

Spirits in a material world. Floating around and fearing our neighbors.

Is that where these thousands of years of evolution have led to? Seriously?

I guess we all deserve better. Create, dig, transform, mow, learn, haul, help & grow.

Maybe it's too small to see the beauty of it all...

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    10 Comments

    0
    BLASTFEMI
    BLASTFEMI

    1 year ago

    Gardening is the next rebellion! Plow on!

    0
    Inswatch2
    Inswatch2

    1 year ago

    Admire your drive and accomplishment tremendously! If only there were more people like you.

    0
    bartworker
    bartworker

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you for your kind words. We just wanted to make this very strange period count. A lot of people died, a lot of people lost loved ones & suffered. We had to extract something positive out of this, we owed it to these victims...

    0
    terrefirmax2
    terrefirmax2

    1 year ago on Step 5

    I'm constantly realized by realizing how few people use or even know about permaculture principles. If there is a benefit to isolation, it may be that we become more informed, introspective, and actively engaged with the earth. Starting with where food comes from, and where it goes...

    0
    bartworker
    bartworker

    Reply 1 year ago

    You pretty much nailed it with this reflection. Questioning is the first step to wisdom and by extension maybe a better life. Raising questions about food, lifestyle, clothes, mobility, religion etc. the list goes on. Accepting the possibility that we may have had it wrong all the time and having the will to change, it's a complex process but all can change with one encounter in life. Being aware of our impact to others, it's a start..

    0
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    1 year ago

    This is how I've been spending my time in quarantine too! Cleared out maybe 15 wheelbarrows worth of sage brush and digging ditches and filling ditches and toting rocks all over.

    Hopefully I'll get to where you are soon now that I've done all the clearing :)

    0
    terrefirmax2
    terrefirmax2

    Reply 1 year ago

    Obviously still doing a lot of reading jessyratfink!

    0
    bartworker
    bartworker

    Reply 1 year ago

    Glad you're still there ;) Different environments, same spirits. At least me made these days count.

    0
    Momos75
    Momos75

    1 year ago

    It was so heartwarming to read, thank you! Similar story here, with the exception that I 've been growing fruits and vegetables for a few years, but this spring I tried to make use of every inch of space available, with the 'who knows what might come' thought constantly on my mind.

    0
    bartworker
    bartworker

    Reply 1 year ago

    There's been an amazing synergy this spring between people all over the world who found inspiration in this period, far away from the misery and pain. You did good, great attitude.