When I was a kid in Junior High school, our family had my grandmother living with us.
Grandma stayed until she passed at 103 years old, and was always busy in the garden.
There were many things she taught us, one of which was how to work in the garden growing things.
Grandma would take dirt and boil it on the stove downstairs for hours to get the bad stuff out of it.
I can’t imagine what bad stuff would be in good old dirt but she grew the biggest, prettiest plants.
Grandma would also collect rainwater in a barrel and pitch all the rabbit droppings and straw under the pens into the water and then use the water (she called tea) to put on her plants.
It didn’t make too much sense to boil the dirt then put manure water in it, but she really had a green thumb.
One day after school she asked my brother and me to come up to the garden and help her plant asparagus.
She instructed us to dig a trench 18 inches wide and about 24 inches deep. I know that the trench was only about 100 feet long but it was hard dirt, and after all, I had important homework to do (yeah, that’s it, homework).
The next day she asked us to help again, planting. The first thing that needed to be done was shovel about 6 inches of sand into the bottom of the trench. Then Grandma had us put 6 inches of dirt over the sand.
We had two large mulch/compost piles into which we dumped grass clippings, leaves and all our organic waste — potato skins, tomato skins, old fruit and tops of dead plants, corn shucks and the good old rabbit droppings.
Everything that was not protein went into the compost piles.
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While my brother and I filled in the compost my grandma did the strangest thing. She placed old leather shoes and dried leather belts onto the top of the compost.
She said that the leather would make the plants grow strong. What did we know? She was the green thumb of the family.