Clean? No chance

Being on the backside of the aging continuum, I am more often confounded by goings on in this modern age. I don’t think I’m out of touch, but perhaps I am. The rock and roll vibe passed me by in the eighties, and amongst current mysteries is the “clean food” movement. Always, I’ve advocated that slapping on a bit of mud will heal most wounds. Of course, not literally, but I suspect there is some harm done by an obsession with cleanliness, and probably this is backed up by science to some extent. Something about sterile environments, and too little exposure to bacteria, I’d guess.  I don’t know much, but I’m pretty certain a bit of dirt is good for you, perhaps not with food, but I’ll let others be concerned if their food is “clean” or not.

There is very little possibility that a true gardener will stay out of the dirt and grime, particularly in a rainy year such as the one we’ve thankfully just finished with. Escaping the muck last year meant staying indoors, and fortunately, I’ve never much minded mud up to my ankles. This is not preferred, but mud and dust are a part of the gardener’s life, so along with scrapes, thorns, and bee stings, this is nothing to be bothered about. I’m pretty certain I could manage without weeds, if I was permitted to have any influence on the subject, but dirt and dust and mud are okay by me.

Tiny pieces of Dogtooth violet roots planted in late January had to be dug out of caked mud on my fingers.

A few days ago I caught a lucky break, a period of an hour or two when a mild, rainy day was moving out and a breezy, cold front was coming in. Bags of corms and rhizomes were stashed in the garage, hoping for a nice sixty degree day to plant, but looking at the forecast there seemed no such days on the horizon. I doubted the roots could be stored for too much longer before they froze, dried out, or drowned, so this short break in the weather was as good as it was going to get.

Digging the shallow holes for corms and roots was easy in ground that was damp from another inch of rain, but also from the remnants of ten inches of snow that melted in the rain and mild temperatures the night before. But, there were problems that I would have avoided at any other time of the year when there were fewer time and temperature constraints that forced planting this afternoon. Every clump of mud excavated for planting holes stuck to the trowel, and what didn’t stuck to my fingers. And it was cold mud that had to be scraped off after digging each hole since I could barely grip the trowel’s muddy handle.

Roots of several varieties of ferns were planted.

Soon, the tiny corms began sticking to my muddy hands, and of course, this is everything that could go wrong planting in the mud and why it’s not a good idea to do it. Tomorrow would be drier, but with cold moving in there would be a couple inch layer of frozen ground on top, so planting in that is even a worse idea. So, ahead I went, digging, scraping, and doing the best that could be done to get the tiny roots and corms into the ground at approximately the right depth, and as many right side up as possible. I think I did it, but we’ll find out when and if plants start popping up in the spring.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    There have actually been quite a few studies about how unhealthy extreme cleanliness, as well as the obsession with it, can be.

    1. Dave says:

      There are times when I’ve been working outdoors that my wife would lock the door if she saw me coming. When I planted bushes long ago I was so dirty coming home that sometimes she made me strip down in the hallway of the apartment before she’d let me in. I didn’t intentionally cover myself, but it’s a part of what we do.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Well, that might not have been an obsession with cleanliness. It was just a justified dislike of filth.

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