The Kinky Green

Rocks Rule (My Life) (Or: Why I Don’t Practice What I Preach)

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on October 14, 2013

Sometimes being lazy is really hard work.

When I first saw The Cottage, I was thrilled I had space for a kitchen garden right by my house. My water source is just outside my front door (at least for now–more on that another time), and I felt incredibly lucky that I’d be able to have my garden so close to home. Most people have gardens out in the bush in dambo areas (low-lying places with available water), which means they can spend anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour+ a day just walking to/from the garden. Whooeee!

I know me… I’d be super excited about my garden initially. But then a combination of laziness/early programs/intense heat/travel/who-knows-what-all would get me off schedule & suddenly it’d be out of sight, out of mind. Neglected garden is no garden at all.

So close to The Cottage is good! It’s brilliant!

But there are some hurdles to overcome. In Zambian villages, many people have goats, chickens, pigs, cows, ducks, etc. A much, much smaller number of those folks have any of these animals penned. So, first order of business was getting a fence built, which took nearly 2 months.
Next up: double-digging my garden beds. Double digging is a method we’re supposed to be teaching folks that is supposed to creat permanent beds, improve the soil, & give the little plant babies a nice deep patch of earth to stretch out nice & deep. This is taking… considerably longer. Annnd may or may not be actually happening.

You see, I live on a big, rocky hill. And the soil around my house has been swept clean (of grass & debris as well as that lovely substance we call topsoil) & the clay-heavy dirt compacted for years upon years. So digging isn’t just a straightforward matter of insert hoe, remove dirt (which, let’s face it, would be problematic enough). No, as the Zambians tell me: Eeeeh. PLENTY of rocks there.

I spent countless hours removing rocks from the surface & first 6-12″ of soil during my first 3 months, knowing I’d want to plant soon after returning from training in September. With the Iwes’ help, I pulled out loads & loads of stones of all shapes & sizes. I have stone-lined flower beds, rock-lined garden beds, a stone-covered shower drain. I’ve given rocks away, started seeking stone-based projects, & taken to chucking them at goats, ducks & chickens careless enough to wander near (though the latter more scatters than diminishes the stockpile). Still I’m with a boatload of rocks.

What’s more? I’m only 1 1/2 beds into double-digging the 5 I have planned. Today, it was 102.2 in the shade by 10 am. My garden ain’t shady, y’all.

Every time I go out, I promise I will dig for an hour. Every time, the sun & rocks & hard, hard soil conspire with my oh-so-dull hoe & oh-so-limited willpower, and I’m back inside within 40 minutes. Promising tomorrow will be different. Knowing it won’t.

The kicker is I’ve kind of given up on double digging. There is only so much room these little plants need, I tell myself as I hit another layer of rock.


One Response to 'Rocks Rule (My Life) (Or: Why I Don’t Practice What I Preach)'

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  1. Matt said,

    Don’t give up, you can do it! Just think of digging days as substitutes for eun training days or workout days!

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