We settled on our list of crops, and on June 1, we got going in the garden. Ryan Casey, our test garden coordinator (and co-owner of Blue House Farm in Pescadero, CA), turned patches of ground into nice soft, receptive beds for the seeds and seedlings he’ll plant next week. Knowing close to nothing about gardening and eager to learn, I watched him as long as I could.

In between the long wide rows, he’d put down chips of Douglas fir bark. This mini-mulch, he explained, will keep the weeds down, and dust too—“So it’s not splashing on your lettuce.” Plus it just feels good to walk on. And it’s pretty.

I watched Ryan start on the last bed, shoving the tines of a digging fork down into the soil, then lifting it and breaking it up. “Basically, all I’m doing is fluffing,” he said. When he was finished, the soil was so loose and light it felt like crumbs, down to a depth of about a foot. I guess the little roots are going to just shoot through this like lightning.

After the fluffing, he layered on an inch of rich dark compost and then raked it all in. When he was done, it looked comfortable enough to nap on. 

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