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Wind Moon Garden


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 it’s March when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, when it’s 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, I’ll water the dressed beds, just enough to aid gravity. I’m dreaming of new life emerging, as I turn last year’s compost. I’ll 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. I’ll pot up heirloom seeds of temptress purple verbascum, and sea holly eryngium. I’ll 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. Patrick’s Day, I’ll plant sweet peas.

I’m happy to discover earthworms hard at work digesting a winter’s 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. It’s a fascinating exploration of human-plant communication. I’m 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. I’m drawn deeper into nature’s mysteries by spade and book.


April 30, 2009
Funding available for agricultural conservation
March 12, 2009
Food producers invited to enroll in Pure Catskills Guide


May 7, 2009
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April 30, 2009
Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Owl pellets
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Rivertalk by Scott Rando: Spring is here - and so are the eaglets
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The Complete Tangler by Clem Fullerton: You sing trout, I sing sand bass
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Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Swiping: unique bird behavior
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The Complete Tangler by Clem Fullerton: Opening day and Delaware flows
April 9, 2009
Rivertalk by Scott Rando: Walking on the wild side
April 2, 2009
Rivertalk by Tina Spangler: On the lookout for Sharpies
April 2, 2009
Back to the Garden by Will Conway: Hare moon garden
March 26, 2009
Rivertalk by Scott Rando: Harbingers of spring
March 19, 2009
Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Beavers, burls and more
March 12, 2009
The Complete Tangler by Clem Fullerton: Reading, writing and tying
March 12, 2009
Rivertalk by Scott Rando: In like a lion, out like a lamb
March 5, 2009
Rivertalk by Sandy Long: Ice is (still) nice
March 5, 2009
Back to the Garden by Will Conway: Wind moon garden
News & columns provided by The River Reporter