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The Elephant Trap

In mid-November I started a project I thought surely I'd finish before the ground froze.

Some Artemisia pontica, was growing where I wanted to put a line of 'Autumn Joy' sedum. In September a friend dug up all the Artemisia he saw, but he didn't understand about combing through the soil to get every last tiny thread of root, when the plant is invasive. In November it was coming up again. I decided to combine the job of rooting it out with renewing the soil, digging it all up and mixing it with compost before I filled the hole.

It got dug up, but not filled in right away. I kept thinking I'd get to it ... and then suddenly everything was rock hard. My husband Ward commented on the elephant trap in the garden. Since the hole is right beside the convenient path to the compost pile, I guess we'll go the long way this winter.

Gardening in late fall is a gamble. I'm glad I got done what I did, but I fuss about the roots of the plants beside the hole; they'll be more exposed. I know I need to let go of this; there's always more to do than you can get done, there are always regrets a gardener can get trapped in. I look at the hole where the Artemisia was and I see the trap of my regrets.

Eventually I stop kicking myself about it, and start to appreciate the humor. At that point I think of something to fill the hole with: kitchen compost. Instead of trekking all the way out to the back yard to use the big pile, I'm using this hole right next to the front porch. Ugly? No, I scrape snow over it; if the snow melts, I've got straw.

During the winter the compost is not likely to "cook" much (heat up from bacterial action, and decompose). I expect I'll still see chunks of veggie peel and stem when I start work again, and I'll take it out to the regular pile in the backyard. But its bulk will insulate those exposed roots. And if it does cook some, they'll love the nutrients released. It is in full sun... it'll be interesting to see what happens.

© Copyright 2003 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 3 January 2003

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