Tag Archives: terracing

Hope Springs, Patience Wells

My great, great grandmother’s maiden name was Patience Wells.  I grew up sleeping in a spool bed made of Black Walnut from her Texan walnut bottom.  A walnut bottom, which I think was her dowry, is a low, flat place which has enough water to support good growth of walnut trees.  It was worth quite a bit. My great grandfather thought he had probably been born in that bed.  But she died young, and he grew up an orphan, raised by his older sister along with another six brothers and sisters. This wonderful name to me is forever linked to the bed. It is true that if hope springs, patience wells. I have needed a lot of it in the last few years, and the slow, seeping well of patience hasn’t let me down yet. Maybe it comes from Patience. Her name is all I know of her.

Finally we have gotten something to eat from the property. Today my friends Val and Dek helped me bring roof tiles up to the bodega and I was able to offer them a big bag of lettuce.  I am learning how the rainy season affects the garden. Some things, like my looseleaf lettuce, go wild with the unlimited rain in good  sandy soil. I say good, because it drains and is rich in minerals.  Apparently heading vegetables, like Napa cabbage, may rot. And now that we have put irrigation on the beds, the lettuces may continue into the dry season, if the rock edges protect them sufficiently from the winds that will come soon. If they don’t, I can stretch cheap shade cloth across the beds and that may do it. The rain also means that any slopes of recently worked loose soil will gully, so we lay down rows of rocks with small angular pebbles to block openings underneath, and the next rain terraces it. The idea is to slow the flow of water so that it can absorb into the soil more deeply, and not carry off nutrients; big terraces like the one in the picture as well as tiny ones perpendicular to water flow.

In the other beds I have planted kale, dill, basil, mustard, arugula, okra, pretty runner beans, a few Prudence Purple tomato plants donated by a friend, papaya seedlings, artichokes, and Guato, which is a bean tree!  Leafcutter ants ate the okra. I put out a sulfamide bait resembling smoke- smelling mouse turds, which they happily gathered up and carried back to their secret mushroom beds. The sulfamide isn’t toxic to us but it is anti-fungal so it destroys the ant nests that are feeding on my garden.  They aren’t actually eating the baby okra- just cutting it up to feed their fungus farms.  It worked; I planted more okra and they are still standing! There is hope yet.