Thursday, October 18, 2018

Planting in Grandma's Garden

We've been waiting all year for our dwarf Mandarin Orange tree to arrive at Rillito Nursery.
Of course, it arrived last week, when the kids were on Fall Break.  It spent 10 days in foster  care at the garden center before we officially adopted it today.

First and most important was preparing the soil.  The kindergarten and first grade scholars carried native soil from all corners of the garden 
and combined it with Happy Frog planting mix.
There was much conversation about how dirty they were getting, but Grandma was not amused.
Their fingers were dirty but their palms were clean.  They were not getting down to the bottom of the pile.  And so we moved back and put our hands on the ground and crept our fingers forward and there we were, underneath it all.  By the time the whistle blew, the planting mix was ready.
This one, Garden Leader Extraordinaire, organized the Club and created a hole exactly where it ought to be, while you weren't here, Grandma.  Her Dad suggested that water would make it easier to dig in the hard pack; she organized a bucket brigade from the cafeteria to the garden.  By the time I arrived this morning, there was a small bathtub dug in the corner of our garden.  It was exactly the right size and the perfect surprise; I'd spent all morning worrying about digging through the dirt. 

That left preparing the hole to the 2nd and 3rd graders.  They clambered into the hole, rolling like puppies in the dirt.  Since my intention was to disturb the edges of the hole, creating opportunities for the roots to spread, their antics were fine with me.
Then, after careful instruction about rakes and shovels not being raised above your shoulders, the most responsible Club members were given weapons of dirt destruction and set to work. 
By the time their whistle blew, the tree's new home was ready.

Then came the 4th and 5th graders, ready to plant.
I chose the girl with the softest hands to cradle the leaves as we tilted the tree in its container.  All the kids held the plastic as I gently tried to dislodge the root ball.  
I failed. 
The 4th and 5th graders punched the bottom of the still tilted container, then I tried again.

We carried the tree oh-so-carefully into the middle of the just as deep and twice as wide hole and added the soil the little kids had prepared.   
After inspecting it to be sure it was straight, the Garden Leaders demonstrated firm but gentle tamping of the soil, being careful to leave the roots poking out of the top of the root ball covered with a thin layer of soil.  
By the time their whistle blew, we had a beautifully top-dressed dwarf Mandarin Orange tree anchoring the sunny corner of the garden. 
I set the irrigation to deeply water our treasure, and left the garden with a smile on my face.  

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