I swear even though it looks like all I do all day is cook, we are soooo much busier than that! Aside from job-hunting (so frustrating) and a host of other projects I’d wanted to finish, I finally got to plant the garden I’ve been dreaming about. Okay, maybe not the garden I’ve been dreaming about, since that distinction is currently given to the beautiful garden in It’s Complicated:
We have a pretty tiny backyard. It’s got clay soil and either gets a TON of sun or none at all. So it’s a challenge. I gardened back there in 2006 and 2007, but was so incredibly busy in 2008 that what little got planted never got watered (sigh). In 2009 I didn’t even bother.
Unfortunately, weeds took over. In mid-2009, though, hubby and I covered the whole yard with black tarp and left it there. In December, we removed it, in anticipation of the use of his uncle’s roto-tiller (we attempted to work the ground by hand, but it was packed solid). There were a few yellowed strands of crabgrass under the tarp, and unfortunately we got hit pretty hard by an industrious gopher, but overall the whole place looked good. And weed-free.
Sadly, hubby’s uncle’s roto-tiller had to wait; between rain, the holidays, more rain, and his uncle’s schedule, we simply couldn’t get the tilling done. Finally in late March we were able to rent a tiller, but not before we had killed four-foot dandelions (courtesy of all the rain we got during those three months) with boiling water and spent days ripping out the roots (I really really really don’t want to use chemicals – I try to garden organically). I have a photo but I refuse to post it. It’s bad. Really really bad. I feel really sorry for my neighbors who had to walk by it!
We then began a very long process of re-setting the paver patio (something I will never, EVER do again – I’d rather build a wooden deck myself than have to deal with paving sand again, and despite our liberal use of expensive paver fabric that hubby assured me would guard against weeds, we’re already getting crabgrass poking through), and planting the garden beds (6 in back, 2 in front – hubby got the landlord’s ok to till the front of the house, where the sprinkler’s demise had caused all the grass to die). We got weed control fabric (luckily cheap at Big Lots), drip hoses, and a TON of cedar wood mulch (which, I know, they say might harbor pests – but it was either that or weed every night, so we’re going to try this… plus it looks nice and keeps my plants moist). We have literally poured hundreds of hours into getting this yard useable and pretty again.
I have to play the proud momma and share baby photos of my garden:
We’ve already got quarter-sized green tomatoes on my Sungold plant, and Isis, Black Krum, and Kellogg’s Breakfast are flowering. We have peppers on three of our nine plants (two on Tequlia Sunrise plants and one Cubanelle), and flowers on the rest, and the cucumber and tomatillios are flowering too. No flowers yet on the patty pan squash, okra, or watermelon – but give it time.
The second set of seeds were planted yesterday (the first set having been decimated by birds – although I did get two squash plants and a single corn – from 20 seeds! – out of the ordeal), including pumpkins, okra, and salsify (which I’ve never tried, but if I’m successful I’ll blog about).
We’ve even got some flowers – planted in the shady part of the yard, with the lettuce and beets, and some of the herbs. And I saw this beautiful pinwheel at Big Lots a few weeks ago and had to pick it up.
And even though I’ve been gardening for years, and have read a TON of gardening books (my favorite is the Reader’s Digest one my sister got me in 2006!), I’m still learning new things. For example, it’s my first time planting eggplant (since I only really learned to like it last year). Did you know that there are fierce spikes on the leaves?
My garden has always been my sanctuary – last time I had a nice garden, I would come home after work and sit for an hour or more just weeding away. I’d have breakfast on the patio. Of course it wasn’t always all veggies – at one time I spent over $100 on sod, and would come home at lunchtime just to water it. The landlord’s gardeners mowed it – twice, the second time after our express request for them not to – in the middle of July, when it was only a few months old. Of course it was dead soon afterwards. Oh well, more room for veggies!
Four years ago a little baby mockingbird came out of a nest as Hubby (who was not yet Hubby) and I were eating lunch out there, and got wedged between some chairs. I moved them so he could get out, and we went inside to watch as his mother found him and fed him.
Gardening makes me feel like I am doing something right – like not only am I helping to put good food on my table, but I’m helping the environment. Yes, it takes water (although when we move, eventually we’ll get a rain barrel and perhaps even a gray water system). And it’s not cheap, or particularly easy. But I’m not only getting awesome yummy vegetables, I’m also enjoying myself. I feel centered when I’m out there, and happy.
There’s still a lot to do – we have to finish three more garden beds and clean out the area next to the house where hubby left a “pretty” weed that has now grown literally up to the roof (oops), for starters, and finish putting things in their proper places (like the barbeque in the photo above) – but I’m so incredibly excited to finally have a garden of my own again!
All of this work is making me think about what we’ll do when we have a house of our own – which will eventually happen, even if it’s happening later than I’d hoped. I’m thinking raised beds, an automatic sprinkler system, a deck or poured concrete patio, a pretty flower bed with a bench shaded by grape vines, and fruit trees! Money permitting, of course. 🙂