The Soil Is Healthier, It Took A Year
June 15, 2021
The top of the tall parking structure is this harsh environment. It’s hot up there with all the concrete, and the wind makes in inhospitable. It’s hard to grow anything there. I think the spinklers were turned off over a decade ago during the last drought. I had heard about the empty planters there, but at some point during my wanderings around the HMO clinic building trying to figure out life and getting exercise, I wandered up there.
It’s easy to throw out the idea that trees should be planted there. Likely if there was money and labor, I could have done in quicker. But when I started, I didn’t know what I was doing and getting permission would have taken an act of congress. So I just would exercise and cleaned out some of the lingering plastic and coffee cups and litter folks had tossed into those containers over the years. Instead I brought leftover food scraps, hay and yes bunny poop. We have two bunnies and I always knew that the ubiquitous bunny poop is good for soil. That is before we started composting at home. After the Aerobin400 has been doing it’s magic, I brought the actual compost to the planters too. It’s a good hike from my desk to the parking garage and up the steps. But I’m greeted by a beautiful view of our area, and I go visit the plants. I make it a game to myself and can also mostly use repurposed things. So when there is wilted salad in the fridge or lunchtime orange peels, I bring that up. I did that about a year ago. Now I bring proper compost because I want the entire regenerative process to go faster. I’m getting a little impatient.
But yesterday I had brought over 30 succulents from our collective family’s garden overabundance and I planted them up there with Dr. Dear Friend. We used the fig sticks I had left there months ago to dig the small and big holes that the succulents needed. We watered them as well. And it was a miracle. Underneath the hay and bunny poop and still decomposing banana peels and next to some other established bigger plants, the soil had more give. The planters that I haven’t been working on, the soil is compacted. There is no air. When you spray water there, it just runs off. Underneath where it looks like I’ve been doing crazy things, the soil is healthier. I can tell. I sometimes stand on the edge of the planter and put my face really close to the plants and the soil, checking for bugs and signs of soil health. And yesterday, I could tell that there has been carbon sequestering into the four planters where I’ve been working on. And all that fruit peels and veggie scraps would have become methane, but instead became much needed nitrogen for the soil.
When you see that sign of life and nature, it is a minor miracle. My sister sent me this picture of a beautiful young buck on our property that sits next to her house. Yes I bought the house next to my sister as a rental. We have renters there. But it’s delightful and a sign that there is life. And that give in terms of the soil and succulent planting yesterday, was the same minor miracle. The topsoil there is healthier and things are growing. Bacteria, nematodes, viruses, fungi, mites and lice – they are all part of a healthy soil.
I’m most happy because that particular aloe plant my mom gave me, and it almost died at our house and then it came to life again up on the HMO parking garage. But it was starting to look sad, and I think that it needed some friends. We all need friends, other living entities to live beside and with us. There is a fungal network in healthy soil, where nutrients are shifted from healthy plants to sicker plants. Plants help eachother out. So yesterday I dropped a lot of new friends to the four planters that we have been working on.
And that is what I remember most about yesterday. Amongst the political jockeying for “leadership” positions in our HMO, and who will go where and who will do what when I eventually decide where to do next in the organization. Amongst the background of nursing drama and inept certain persons who have made life more difficult and are 100% ineffective in our organization, and my now learning my diplomatic and HR skills and just listening to people as they figure out what they need to do. Amongst the background of sitting with patients and families after a historic pandemic and giving sympathy to them knowing that I know their families from growing up and grandmother passed away. I will remember the soil the most. I will remember that when I pushed the small little fig stick into the ground, there was give. There was more air pockets and space and health for the succulents that we were planting. And I will remember my three good friends laughing true and smiling when I handed them some of my silly wine-cork people. It made them smile and it brought them a few minutes of joy. I will remember that as well.