Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tilth

An obsession with tilth is probably more to do with a Gardener's personality and experience, than it is to do with anything else. I can say this because I have been obsessed by tilth since I grew Radish up there on the slope of the Elgon Caldera. There'd been no rain, the garden was in shade, and I decided I would harvest the Radish.  Nor did we really have things like trowels, because on the high ground  around the Elgon Caldera a trowel was a pretty pointless implement. What you needed was a jembi, otherwise, especially for those with the elegant wrist, you kind of got nowhere as an ancient volcanic soil laughed at you.

 The Radish seed was remarkably precious, I had exactly twenty of them originally and they produced a perfect row of fifteen or sixteen plants, if I remember.  Of that number all but five had fallen prey to the malice of other little boys, and there'd been some extended periods of detention for one of the little boys who hadn't reacted well to an unnecessary vandalism to his garden. And I guess in the moments before the act of harvest a sort of excitement comes over a Gardener as he visualizes the perfection and glow of a root vegetable, and he ceases to become remotely practical and starts beating his head against a brick wall. The first four Radish, one after the other, come out badly damaged because the ground was rock hard and unresponsive to pointed stick as harvesting tool. The fifth Radish had been hollowed out by some ground dwelling insect that had tunneled straight through it, and it came out just fine.

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