Nature’s healing powers: You can’t even tell there was a fire anymore

  • Thursday, November 28, 2019 1:30am
  • Business

By Steve Smith

As the season winds down and the garden is put to bed, I can’t help but pause and reflect on the past several months. It was a roller coaster year for me with lots of promise, a major setback, and then a fantastic recovery. Mild weather near the end of winter enabled me to get a jump on my soil preparation for my raised beds and by March, I already had all my cool-season veggies planted and growing nicely. The rest of the mixed-border beds had been cleaned out, fertilized and mulched for the year. All I had to do was watch everything start growing. Life was good.

Then on May 28 around 12:30 a.m. my wife hobbled into the bedroom and woke me up (she had been sleeping downstairs while awaiting a hip replacement) to inform me that there was a fire in the back yard. The neighbor’s chicken coop had caught on fire, then spread to my tool shed, engulfing most of the veggie beds and surrounding landscape. Thankfully, between the Marysville police and fire departments its was contained. But the damage was done. About 128 feet of fence was gone and half of my back yard was either gone or singed to the point of needing major pruning. Virtually every vegetable was incinerated, including many of the boards of the raised beds, and all of the gardening tools I had collected over my lifetime were reduced to ingots of aluminum or destroyed beyond recognition. Like any good farmer, the only course of action was to pick up the pieces and start replanting. We replaced the fence and several structures. The raised bed boards were replaced, and I proceeded to replant the garden. Much to my surprise, the potatoes re-sprouted, but that was the only thing that recovered in the garden. The fire was so hot that it sterilized the soil and even after replanting, nothing wanted to grow until I applied liberal amounts of worm castings, which restored the soil microorganisms. In the end, I had one of the best gardens ever even though many of the veggies were planted very late. It was all a tribute to the resilience of nature and the tenacity of the gardener.

By the end of the season, I had replaced the shed (which we had been talking about removing anyway) with a cute little “she shed”, added a colorful arbor with decorative iron moon gates accented with dragonflies, and purchased several “new and improved” tools to replace the ones that had been consumed.

I now have quite a collection of metal tool heads (minus the wooden and fiberglass handles) that are just waiting to be incorporated into some form of garden art.

You can hardly tell there was ever a fire. I still need to replace several of the 16-feet tall Emerald Green Arborvitae that burned, but overall, life

is good and for that I am extremely thankful. I am now looking toward spring when I will repair the last remnants of the fire damage and move on like it never happened. Tragedy always brings opportunity.

Steve Smith owns Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at

More in Business

Bare-root fruit trees. (Courtesy Photos)
Now, yes now, is the time to start thinking about fruit trees

By Steve Smith Believe it or not, by the end of this… Continue reading

Tips on getting garden ready for arctic blast 

By Steve Smith It looks like the next couple of weeks are… Continue reading

Vertical gardens, such as these strawberries, make good use of little space. (Courtesy Photos)
Garden trends for 2020 similar to last 5 years

By Steve Smith I have spent countless hours researching “trends for 2020”… Continue reading

Lemon tree very pretty. (Courtesy Photo)
Citrus can be grown in the Northwest

By Steve Smith We live in a horticultural paradise. There is very… Continue reading

Business briefly

Business awards MARYSVILLE – Four-Day Fireplace was recently named Business of the… Continue reading

Not too late to dig up a gift for garden lovers

By Steve Smith I know it is crunch time for gift buying… Continue reading

New luxury pre-owned car dealership opens in Marysville

MARYSVILLE – North Marysville’s auto row just added a touch of luxury… Continue reading

Before and after photographs of the fire and nature’s recovery at Steve Smith’s house. (Courtesy Photos)
Nature’s healing powers: You can’t even tell there was a fire anymore

By Steve Smith As the season winds down and the garden is… Continue reading

So many benefits to a ‘real’ Christmas tree

By Steve Smith As gardeners, the concept of “going natural” is nothing… Continue reading

More new goodies to be looking for in 2020

By Steve Smith Back in September, I introduced you to several new… Continue reading

A hardy fall container.
Garden list of things to do this month

By Steve Smith Here’s an all-in-one-place list of chores for the month.… Continue reading

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but do it anyway to have flowers during winter

By Steve Smith As the temperature drops, along with all the leaves… Continue reading