The Joys of Dirt

I cannot think of my grandma without thinking of dirt. NEVER was there a time when she was not deep into a gardening project. Ma’s garden was enormous with winding pathways that begged for slow walks and further exploration. I never knew what I would come across…ground cherries with their paper thin skins, bleeding hearts, tiny birds cautiously sipping at the birdbath, called by its ever-present slow drip of clean, cool water.

Some years there was a vegetable garden, but even as much as my Ma loved gardening, she grew weary of the deer, persistent in their goal of eating the harvest before it could be picked. Fences would go up only to have the deer find its weakness, and infiltrate once more. The vegetable (and fruit, for there were strawberries!) garden was eventually left to be taken over by nature and Ma spent her gardening time pursuing other, more worthwhile endeavors, splitting the Iris bulbs, rooting tiny branches, fertilizing azaleas and rhododendrons and of course, forever fussing with the watering system.

She even had dirt indoors, by way of her African violets. Growing in a narrow hallway, lit by a fluorescent system my grandpa rigged up, the violets flourished. Delicate pinks, purples and yellows, all with their tell-tale fuzzy leaves, that all the grandchildren were told not to touch, but did when no one was looking!

I never had a chance to ask what it was about gardening my grandma liked so much…was it the sense of accomplishment? The stillness? The smell? The beauty? The creating something from nothing? I will never know.

When I saw the terrarium project in the Weekend Homemade book I knew that I had to try it. A month or so ago, I picked up an inexpensive terrarium from Ikea. It sat, empty, on my hutch waiting for inspiration. Yesterday I picked up 3 small plants meant for indoors, and activated carbon from the pet store. I already had the gravel and soil.

I layered the carbon and gravel, placed the plants and then filled in all around. I may add some moss to the top, although it would just be for looks as certainly, in a closed terrarium, it’s not needed for water retention.

The end result is a little piece of my grandmothers world, ok I didn’t create something from nothing, but I did feel the dirt in my hands, I did enjoy the sense of accomplishment, and maybe that’s enough.

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