Dibble Dabbling

Those who know me are very aware that I love to grow food. I’ve been gardening seriously for about 46 years now, and I still finding myself learning the hard way. What can I say? I’m basically self-taught. In the beginning especially, my gardening experience came from books and publications like Organic Gardening And Farming (now just Organic Gardening) magazine, and Mother Earth News. I would read anything related to organic methods I could find.

When my gardening “career” began way back in 1973, there was no internet, but there was a thing we techno-nerds have come to regard as “sneakernet.” In other words, my fellow gardeners and I would exchange books and magazines back and forth in the course of meeting in person over a nice hot cup of chamomile tea. I got pretty good at learning how to build healthy soil that would in turn yield strong and healthy plants and provide delicious produce. And of course, when one grows his or her own food, the nourishment is just as much spiritual as it is physical.

Can you tell I love gardening?

Yes, you really do need to love gardening to keep doing it. It’s rewarding, but it’s also hard work! God bless all the farmers is all I can say… those folks work way harder than anyone I know. Anyway, back to the gardening. Yes, it’s hard work, but at least in my case I’ve learned some techniques that help reduce the amount of labor required for upkeep. Take mulch, for example. Take it I say!! It’s right here! What?? You don’t want any?? FINE!! Yes, I’ll take your leaves. What? You thought oak leaves are no good for the garden?? Well that’s pure bullwonky!! No, they don’t make your soil acidic. They keep in the moisture, build the soil and prevent weeds from taking over. AND earthworms LOVE oak leaves, and their poop is alkaline, which serves to neutralize any acid that might leach out of the oak leaves. So there!!

But I digress (no kidding, right??).

So there I was, minding my own business, developing gardening techniques that became habits. Now there’s the internet, with tons and tons of information readily available with a flick of the wrist. Some of my habits have been modified due to all the new information I’ve found; but then some old habits are hard to break. One of my habits is improvising when it comes to planting various crops. Today I planted garlic for the 3rd year in a row. However, I’ve modified my technique a bit. First I went online to verify planting depth (2 – 3 inches) and spacing (8 inches between plants, 12 inches between rows). Then I thought I could save myself some grief by actually marking off the rows with baling twine. Even more useful was the long piece of left over 1 x 1 that I marked off 6 and 12 inches for spacing (6 inches was from the edge of the garlic bed). Then I marked the rest of the stick at 8 inch intervals for plant spacing.

When I got ready to plant, I noodled a bit because the soil is pretty wet and cold right now. The idea of digging a hole for each bulb with my pointer finger as in previous years didn’t appeal to me. So I thought a bit longer and decided to devise a tool for planting. Found me a nice fat (about 1 ½ inch across) maple branch that had fallen a few days ago, cut it so one side was a nice place to grip, and the other side was 3 inches to the knotty part. Perfect depth for planting garlic cloves or onion bulbs. Just push the stick in the ground to the knotty part, drop the bulb in the hole, and cover with a trowel full of soil I already had waiting in a bucket. Easy peasy.

Before heading out to the garden, I came in the house for a drink of water. My Beautiful Girlfriend and our Beautiful Friend Pam were working on some macrame plant hangers. Our Beautiful Friend is a Master Gardener, and also is keen on using homemade items for various tasks. I proudly displayed my new planting tool, and she said, “oh, that’s a dibble!” “A dibble??” I queried. “Yes, that’s what you call those. You made a dibble.” “Oh!” I replied with a grin. “So now I’m a dibble dabbler!!” She laughed and agreed. A dibble. Wow. So of course I had to go the the interwebs to learn more. There are many, MANY types of dibbles for sale from various vendors. I never knew!

I thought it was just a stick!!

Speaking of farms… I’m pretty sure they are all just like this: