It wasn't until I was already covered in powdered blood and bone meal, with the wind picking it up and sending it flying, that I began to wonder if I had made a huge mistake.
Last week I spent many hours on a job, coordinating the building of a garden I had designed for a pool contractor who wants to recommend me to his clients that want to incorporate edibles into their landscapes. His home is a sort of test-run, and will hopefully lead to more referrals for my services as a garden coach.
"L" lives in a multi-generational arrangement, and I have been honored to meet many family members, and dialogue with them about the garden we are building. There are many inclusions for his Italian father, and Mexican mother, who both love to cook. I have really enjoyed transforming underutilized areas into gorgeous and productive spaces that will provide sustenance for the humans as well as the insects and other wildlife.
Friday I was on site by myself to spread organic fertilizers and nutrients into the beds before we return to plant them. I had already made friends with the very intimidating baby of the family, Nina, a red nosed pitbull. She ate my lunch earlier in the week, and I've been intentional to stop and talk to her several times a day, letting her smell me and scratching her behind the ears.
As soon as I cut open the first bag of blood meal, her nose was in the air, sniffing. I carefully opened the bone meal and tipped it into my bucket, trying to mix them as gently as possible, since a wind was already lifting the fine powder into the air beyond my control.
Nina raised herself up, from where she had been lying in the sun, interested.
The powder was all over my gloves, and dusted up my arm when Nina came over to investigate. She circled with interest, sniffing continuously. It was in that moment that I wondered "have I made a great mistake?" I wondered if blood and bone mix swirling in the air would send Nina into a frenzied attack, like blood in the water for a shark. I imagined her gnawing my arm off to the shoulder, just crunching it like a big chicken wing dipped in tasty batter.
For a moment there, organic gardening seemed to be an enormous risk.
I managed to wash my arm off, and set the bucket high out of reach. I quickly raked in the meal I had already spread in the garden, and then watered it in deeply. I continued with some less tantalizing organic fertilizer until a family member came home and kept an eye on Nina, keeping an eye on me, spreading what to her, smelled like a delicious treat.
Risky business, this gardening stuff.