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On the Rocks


February 27, 2012 by csukach

By Chris Sukach

Gardening’s different here in the mountains.

It’s not just the altitude (7500 feet above sea level—where water boils before it’s ready and lungs scream for oxygen red blood cells aren’t quite yet ready to carry) that challenges tender shoots.

It’s not the lack of rainfall that causes seeds to holler and religious parables to pound at the brain before sprouts even show.

It’s not even the frequent bear and fox visits to compost piles and garbage bins to stock up on snacks before decomposition has turned the treats into nutrients for hungry plants.

Rock and pickaxe

Diggin' garden surprises (csukach photo)

It’s the rocks.

We live on a pile of decomposing granite—a compressed 2 billion-year-old crystalized seabed thrust into the air by a restless planet.  And while sometimes crumbly, one doesn’t just drop a spade into aged stone and plop in some bulbs for a springtime extravaganza.

A garden here is something you earn.

You earn it with a pickaxe and sweat via an aching back and hands that have grown soft and accustomed to mechanized means of cultivation.  The rocks here have teeth and grind tillers into oatmeal to chew for breakfast.  The rocks here care not for backs or hands.

One longs for a stick or two of dynamite and truckloads of loamy fertile soil, but that would be the easy way out (not to mention the neighbors’ probable objections to early morning explosions in their backyards).

And what of the trees?  Yes, surely the immense grandfather trees, who by the look of them have been kickin’ it in the rocky soil of this yard for close to a century, would object to the blasts.

So back to the pickaxe you go.

Plink, plink, plink.  Swing, hack, dig and pry.  Ow, a blister!  Our pioneering ancestors would be so proud.

Seeds and hope bail into the hole.  Perhaps the rocks will soften and the worms will show and maybe, just maybe the little guys will grow.

But for now we wait…


  1. Mike says:

    Nice rhymes 🙂

  2. csukach says:

    I’m learning from the best!

  3. Jules says:

    Couldn’t you just go to the store?

    We had this same prob where I grew up. It’s a back breaker for sure. I recommend sturdy digging machines and avoid anything manual. There has to be a rental somewhere!

  4. csukach says:

    You might be on to something there!

  5. Rosie Taylor says:

    Now that’s what I call PERSISTENCE and DETERMINATION! I wouldn’t expect anything less from you though. Let us know how the little sprouts go.

  6. csukach says:

    Absoultely! And I’ll post pics if the sprouts ever decide to show themselves!

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