Blog, Gardening, NC

Earth in her Self-cleaning Cycle

Amber Shehan March 28, 2010

The moon is waxing, closer now to full… There are daffodils swaying on the hillside, and lilies of some sort poking their green lances up through the clay… I woke to a birdcaphony earlier this week, and made a mockingbird mock my whistle three times! Therefore; tomorrow morning, bright and early, I am going to…


The moon is waxing, closer now to full…

There are daffodils swaying on the hillside, and lilies of some sort poking their green lances up through the clay…

I woke to a birdcaphony earlier this week, and made a mockingbird mock my whistle three times!

Therefore; tomorrow morning, bright and early, I am going to put dirt into some freecycled plastic pots (Yay!) and start some of the chilly weather plants for our first garden! The seeds were also free, which is wonderful. Free food just waiting for the ideal conditions to manifest, right from the very ground!

cleaning the earth

Cleaning the Earth – Image by Modern Scribe Photography

Well….maybe from the ground. I’m not sure. You see, I’ve been trying to figure out why it feels like my yard does not want a garden in it.

I just can’t sort it out. There’s a couple of very good spots for a garden, full of sun and with light windbreak…but it doesn’t feel right. The groundhogs, birds, and rabbits certainly WANT me to have a garden in the yard, but I keep balking at something.

So I’ve been thinking and walking and looking and listening.  Secret Agent Amber has been put on the task to investigate the local flora and learn the names of new weeds and strange flowers…counting mockingbirds and marking the difference between crows here and crows in the swamp. I’ve been breathing the air and feeling the vibrations that go down through the clay and bounce from rock to rock. I listened to the space on which I live and hope to grow sustenance, and it said gently, kindly, “No.”

So I’ve looked even closer and I keep finding a problem…as I’ve mentioned before, our yard is chock full of trash from the previous tenants.  Eric’s found a truck bed shell, a chain link fence, a doghouse, and three bicycles in the long dead grass on the edge of our yard, and that’s just the BIG stuff.

The worst kind of trash is the bits of rusted metal, broken glass, chips of plastic and even strips of tarps left to rot under just an inch or two of clay. Overall, the yard feels like a beaten creature, cowering and hoping it will be ignored and passed over. This land isn’t ready to nurture.

I gaze around at what IS growing, at the weeds: poke that grows with a force to be reckoned with, bittercress making a white haze over the earth from her flowers, clover patches cracking the clay and the biggest dandelions I’ve ever seen swaying in the March winds.  “Ditch weeds,” I think to myself.

All I know about ditch weeds is that they grow where there is cleaning that needs to be done. Filtration systems for the ecosystem, and for our bodies.  For example, Dandelions are liver cleansers, blood strengtheners…what is it finding in this soil that is making them grow to Audrey-like proportions? What is the astringent, nutrient-rich bitter Pokeweed pulling from the ground and offering up so that the birds won’t eat its berries? They always ate the poke berries in Virginia…

I think my yard is in the middle of a cleanse.  Let me give you an example of WHY I think and feel this way…

handful of nails and trash

Image by Modern Scribe Photography

This is the result of my digging around in the picture above. In less than a square foot of clay soil, all of this was at the surface, completely visible to the naked eye. In less than one minute, I had two handfuls of sharp, rusty metal to throw away.

So it’s been decided. This yard deserves a break, and while we are still going to keep the poke trimmed back a bit, we are going to allow the earth here to do what it must to clean itself. I’ll keep picking and throwing away the mess left by others.

We will use raised beds for our garden this spring, summer, and fall to produce the food that will help to sustain us, and the local ecosystem.  We will know what is in the soil it grows up from, and have more control over growing conditions and predator control.

I’ll try to get Sarah to take more pictures tomorrow of the first raised bed and the seedlings that will soon be reaching up towards this lovely Spring sun!

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Amber Shehan

Hi! I'm Amber Pixie, and this is my site. Enjoy the recipes, information, posts, and please feel free to message me if you have questions!


  1. Christi on March 28, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Good solution with raised beds. With all that debris in the yard, I’d be concerned with chemicals and such left in the soil from previous tenants. Looking forward to seeing the photos as your garden project grows!

  2. Missus D on March 30, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Interesting post for me considering I know so little about gardening. It’s great to hear you describe what the earth is doing for itself.

    And yes, I would love to read updates!!

  3. Slappy Walker on April 1, 2010 at 4:35 am

    Maybe you could pick a day and just start over with the whole yard. This is assuming that it’s not too huge.

    When we first moved into our home, our front yard was so bad that the previous owner just laid down a massive pile of red mulch. We ended up having to remove all of the mulch, till up the soil, and then plant a whole new lawn.

    It finally took root and looks like a brand new lawn. It’s still a work in progress though, and I know a garden might have other factors involved.

  4. kara d on April 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    We too are working with raised beds for our edibles! Our backyard is like a treasure hunt every time it rains–the previous owners used to burn their trash back there before there was city-wide trash service. (yikes!) I am also trying to encourage more pollinators & birds to take up residence. To that end, we have started a butterfly garden & planted some seed-producing plants for our feathered friends.
    Keep us posted on your progress! (because you know one day we’ll be there in person!)

  5. […] been researching methods of growing potatoes in a different way that my grandpa did. Since our yard is not suited for digging into right now, we tend to grow most of our food in […]

  6. […] pallets into Raised Beds – One down, three to go! Since we are gardening in the front yard now rather than the back lot, I might do more containers than planted beds. Got […]

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