Borrowing Stuff as a Ministry

Before HugelkulturI am working on some garden projects. A hugelkultur mound (German for, “hill garden” or “hill culture”) that I am preparing for planting in the spring. See the pictures on the left and below for stages 1-5.

Hugelkultur requires the digging of a trench and filling it with rotting logs, sticks and other organic matter that will decay over time and provide nutrients to the plants above. My trench was 16 feet long, 3 feet wide and eight to 18 inches deep. Then I covered it up with the dirt I removed, and covered that with some mulch (mostly leaves, grass clippings, and straw) that I had been cultivating for a couple of weeks.

Stage four was covering it again with a layer of hay. As fall drops its leaves, I will mulch the leaves and cover the straw again and let the whole mix continue to decompose over the winter.

Stage 3 Hugelkultur
Stage #4: Hugelkultur mound recovered with dirt

Above, in the background of the Hugelkultur mound you can see some composting material made of grass-clippings, potting soil, and decaying straw. Over the next two weeks, I continued to water and turn, and mix those two piles and then used it to top dress the whole mound. You can see that the dirt is very poor and will need the nutrients of the decaying logs underneath as well as the compost and hay that I am putting on top of the mound in order to have any real harvest in the years to come.

Next to the hugelkultur mound on the left is about 18 inches of straw-bedding for a footpath and next to that to the right is the start of the “Ruth Stout Method” (RSM) planting bed (see picture #6). Sometimes called the no-weeding method, the RSM is an “imitate nature”, no till, no weeding, and planting directly into straw or hay-covered ground. Here I have covered the ground first with cardboard to kill the grass underneath, put mulch on top and then covered it with a layer of hay. Next will come compost, leaf and grass clippings, more hay, more class clippings, more hay, etc., until I have a good mass of organic material (and another mound) in which to plant.

Doing all this work has made me lust after a backyard potting table to store tools, pots, garden implements of all kinds, and something that will make it easier to work without bending down so much, maybe a cover for that South Carolina sun overhead. For that project I anticipated using some repurposed pallets and pallet wood. After I had located a free source for the pallets, I talked to a friend with a truck who agreed to help me pick them up. Next I put a post on our local home-owners association Facebook page asking if there was anyone who had a reciprocating saw that I could borrow for about an hour to cut the pallets apart. I offered to replace the saw blade when I was finished and within an hour I had a friendly neighbor who I had not yet met, volunteer the device.

There were five large pallets like the one that remains here. Now the other three have been cut up and had all nails removed, yielding the lumber in the stack on the right.  It was a project I could not have done without my helpful neighbor’s recipricating saw. Now I am looking for the right design and a cooler day to start the next project.

All that to get to this.

  • I met a new neighbor because I didn’t spend money I didn’t have. 
  • I learned a dozen things about my neighbor because I tried to ask a new person for some help.
  • We had a brief but enjoyable conversation and I now have a whole new set of things to pray for, related to my neighbor and my community.
  • Without going into detail, I got to start a conversation with my neighbor that raised the spiritual awareness of my community. 
  • My neighbor now knows that I am a Christian and has new spectacles with which to view not only me but every Christians with whom he comes in contact.
    • What could you borrow today that would give you an opportunity to get to know a neighbor?

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