Wind Moon Garden
By WILL CONWAY
March brings tempestuous winds, driving a tumble of bark, branch and leaf against the garden fence. Snow recedes, whitens the ground again, then disappears. We know its March when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, when its summer in the light and winter in the shade. The lion makes way for the lamb of spring.
Seeds can blow into our gardens from far across the seas. Traditionally, the wind carried visions. The Delphic oracle allowed cave winds to come up from the earth, go through her body and out of her mouth as prophesy. The speaking wind bears listening to, and can be called upon to cool a warm afternoon. In folklore, witches whistle for the wind and ride it on their broomsticks. The devil also has the power of air. It is said that a windy March brings a beautiful May.
I wait for the ragged winds to quiet before digging in the garden. The bare and hungry beds cry for nutrients. Saturated soil must dry to be worked. I ready manure, compost, rock powder and wood ash, and fold supplements into exposed ribbons of dirt. To keep nutrients in place for seedling growth, Ill water the dressed beds, just enough to aid gravity. Im dreaming of new life emerging, as I turn last years compost. Ill be excited to discover a small drift of snowdrops, blooming ahead of the crowd. Soon, the yard will fill with bees and birds, and fresh scent of daffodil.
Now is the time to start seeds of tomatoes, peppers and lettuce on a window ledge. Ill pot up heirloom seeds of temptress purple verbascum, and sea holly eryngium. Ill also try some annual Canterbury bells campanula, and Cinderella stocks. A pinch of sand and charcoal on top of potting mix can help prevent damping off. I will plant what Shakespearean maidens called Love-in idleness, or pansies, to attract fairies to the garden. On St. Patricks Day, Ill plant sweet peas.
Im happy to discover earthworms hard at work digesting a winters worth of kitchen parings. They help fertilize the soil and improve its texture with their vast intestinal fortitude. Our woodland soils thrive because of their organic cycling of nutrients. Worms help midwife new growth, supplementing castings rich with organic fertilizer. In ancient times, only women could break the soil and do the planting. They were not only bearers of children, but were identified with self-fertility and life force itself. Father Sky mated with Mother Earth and brought the seed of rain to procreate annual flora. Green means new, hapless and uncontrived. In March, silliness and carefree thoughts parallel the gaiety of emergent greenery.
I recommend reading The Secret Teachings of Plants, by Stephen Buhner. Its a fascinating exploration of human-plant communication. Im also enjoying Grace in the Garden, by Debra Engle. She shares 20 contemporary, positive stories about gardens that teach, nourish, unify, inspire and heal us. Im drawn deeper into natures mysteries by spade and book.