1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Old as Dirt? Get Yourself Some New Soil, 'Dig'?

You've probably heard the expression "old as dirt." Since true soil or "dirt" is mostly weathered rock with some well-rotted plant material mixed in, you can understand why that expression came into being. Now Florida doesn't have much weathered rock or soil, but it does have a lot of sand, as you can see just beyond the boundary of the vegetable garden. The veggies in my garden this year consist of a few scatter-planted green beans, some cucumbers, onions, tomatoes mostly in pots, and various herbs for seasoning everything. Since we moved back in mid-March, I didn't have enough time early in the spring to properly prepare the ground for summer planting. I needed some real dirt real quick, or the garden would fail just as miserably as in years past.

Our decision to attend church at the same place we used to go when we first moved here proved to be more fruitful than I could have imagined. Thanks to good friend and fellow gardener with a business, Cliff Martin, we now have some real dirt. He "makes" the stuff himself with mostly cotton seed hulls and other organic goodies. He won't give me the exact recipe for it, but maybe if I come up with an interesting name? It certainly could be Cliff's Compost Heaven.

I decided to conduct some very unscientific testing on the dirt by adding it to the front half of the garden, the part you can see first as you walk by. Just a few weeks have passed since those handfuls of dirt were casually pitched at the plants, and you can easily see how vigorously the plants have grown. The Homestead onions (another one of Cliff's specialties) have really shot up, and I've harvested several pounds of beans already from this tiny plot.

So what about the back 40 (inches or so) of the garden that didn't receive the good dirt? The plants are puny, the leaves are yellow, and the beans are not as bountiful on this side.

The beans aren't the only lucky plants to receive Cliff's Organic Wonder Soil. This Floradale tomato in a pot--purchased at a plant sale from another plantsman, our pastor/PSC math professor--received a top dressing of the good stuff. I had already potted it in some garden variety garden soil before we got a truckload of Cliff's Miracle Mix. If it sounds like I'm thrilled with this new dirt, I am, strange as it may seem. Even an old-as-dirt gardener like me can "dig" some new soil.


  1. You're not old! So glad the new dirt is working. Compost will sure help that sand! People complain about clay all the time but when I lived in NC it was all sand so I know I'll take clay any day. The problem was it drained too fast. Hope you are doing well!

  2. I am feeling old too, lately! Seems everyone around us is a young 20-something!!! hehehe.

    Cliff has some great dirt!!! I'm so happy your found him and it and now your yard/gardens will be so happy!!!

    Your bean plot looks wonderful!!!

  3. I am doing well, Tina, thanks. Just kidding about old. Although, when I was a kid, 51 (52 in a few months!) seemed really old. Now 80 seems like "spring chicken" to me! That's what I'll think anyway when I get there. It's all in the mind, I'll keep telling myself.

    The dirt is especially helpful for keeping moisture handy because of the cotton in it. If you look closely at the pictures you'll see little cotton balls in the dirt.

    Julie, yeah what's with all the youth in Florida? I thought we were a retirement destination. I guess no one can afford to retire anymore:) Cliff is a great friend and wonderful resource for plants. I think I'll be a customer this fall for some of his apple trees. I'm trying to turn my yard into more of an edible landscape.

  4. You're definitely not old! I used to think 60 was old, but once I hit that milestone, I readjusted my thinking:)

    Amazing what some good soil can do in the garden. The Idea Garden run by our MG group always has such vigorous plants, but it's no wonder when we have an endless supply of compost to add to the garden all the time.

  5. Everything looks wonderful. If Cliff ever needs to get rid of some of his wonder dirt let me know.

    There's some discussion online about something called compost lung but I think that compost is/should be too hot to grow mold, etc. I don't turn mine anyway, just layer and let it break down. Have you heard about this?

    I didn't realize you had moved back - I hope it was a hoped for development. If so, then welcome home!

  6. Dear Walk2Write,
    now I have learned a new phrase - always thrilling.
    Yes - good soil: you are lucky to have found someone who gives you some! When I had still my garden, I made my own compost - very successfully, and the garden soil was also quite good - but on a balcony you have to use that bought ...mumble, mumble... well: is it earth? Soil? It's 'Something in a Bag' - and my runner beans have some yellow leaves - it can only be my good words that make my roses bloom (but there I took the soil with them). So: cherish that gardener!

  7. Rose, age is just a state of mind. Birthdays remind us how old we are. Therefore we feel old. Let's forget about birthdays, and then we won't be reminded. Pretty good logic, huh?

    Paula, Cliff has the dirt ready to pick up at his place if you have a truck to get it. You can contact him via the website link. He brought ours to us after church a few weeks ago: one of the perks of friendship! Your method of composting makes sense. It does need that heat to let the microbes do their work. Yes, the moving back was certainly hoped for. Thanks!

    Britta, I'm so glad to help with the words. Gardening on a balcony does have its advantages. There is no lawn to mow or weeding chores to keep up with, and you certainly won't have deer or other critters chomping on your plants. You're free to explore that beautiful city where you live. Gardening is such a love-hate thing, more of the latter when the weather starts to warm up here.

  8. In my neighborhood, there's a house whose whole garden was converted to a splendid rose garden. Every flower is vigorous and thriving. She said it had taken five years to make the good dirt.
    Last year I grew balsam pear to make a"green curtain". They were a good shade and rich in Vitamin C! I love tomatoes too.
    Hope you'll enjoy a good harvest, w2w.

  9. Thank you, Cosmos! If I try to grow veggies here, the soil must constantly be replenished because of the sand. The nutrients disappear too quickly. I've never heard of balsam pear. It sounds like a wonderful fruit.

  10. Never underestimate dirt! Goes to show, too, that composing pays.

  11. Hello W2W,

    Reading your experiences is such a pleasure. It gives us positive energy, because of the presence nature..

  12. Love your gardening. Wanted to ask what is the edging by your beans? I love that.

  13. In the first pic. Sorry, mind isn't what it use to be.

  14. Hehe, Mr. S, I wonder what key this composition is in? And I never underestimate dirt.

    Tomz, thanks! I try to keep it light and clean, even when dirt is the subject.

    Hi, Lola! The edging is simply those interlocking edging blocks sold at Lowe's or Home Depot. One end is rounded and the other is a receiver for the round part. They're great for creating curves in the landscape. We bought a bunch of them several years ago when they were on sale.

  15. Thank you Walk2Write!

    Word of mouth advertising is the best kind!

    I've still got plenty of compost available along with a large
    variety of fruit trees for your edible landscaping.

  16. You're welcome, Cliff, and welcome to the blog! I'm planning on increasing the edibles with some of your apple trees. I never thought I would be able to grow them in Florida. I'm sure we will be adding some more of your compost this fall too. I want to be ready for next year's garden.