My husband was raised in the city, and though his family did some beautiful ornamental gardens, and home-preserved farm produce, they were not big vegetable gardeners. Nevertheless, my husband has an affinity for growing things. The last few years without dirt of our own have been really trying for him. There’s only so much the man can do in pots on a tiny front porch.
I was raised in a small lumber town in the mountains (the closer to the trees, my dear), and though I was not exactly an “outside cat,” I did participate in the Family Gardening Endeavors. These Endeavors commenced each February, when the seed catalogs arrived.
(My mother raised me to combat seasonal depression by browsing seed catalogs and drawing house plans. It’s definitely cheaper than medication and therapy. See the family Memorial Garden, above.)
When the fire in late February necessitated a move to a new permanent home, we settled into a cozy mid-20th century cottage in the same neighborhood. One big improvement in our lives has been the very large, fenced back yard.
Another improvement: the very lovely lady who owns the house, and is happy to have a family settled in it again. When we signed the lease agreement, her parting words were, “Now, if you kids want to put in a garden, you go ahead. We used to have a big garden back there, but it’s been overgrown for years. There are raspberries, too, if you want to prune them back hard.”
Giving my husband carte blanche to garden? Oh dear.
My idea of gardening is more along the lines of organic “lasagna” layering, drip lines, mulch, cover crops: low maintenance, no plowing, scads of salad veggies. It’s the sort of gardening I imagine I can do without sweating, or getting terribly dirty on a regular basis.
(Did I mention I’m not big on the whole Nature thing? I like to admire The Nature, safely behind a nice screened window.)
His involves renting small mechanized monsters, and taking turns with the bigger kids to Till The Soil.
Before we had unpacked fully, before we had cleared out two storage lockers full of fire-damaged belongings, before we sent out change of address cards to the whole family (yes, they’re coming one of these day… and the family picture from Christmas 2008. My auntie will tell you I’m a really bad slacker in mailing things that aren’t related to work… as will my sister, and my mother-in-law)… before we had accomplished any of that, my husband chatted up a rental business on his route and reserved this Monster Tilling Machine for the first non-snowing Saturday of the year.
(It did snow the next Saturday, but it was only May… we deserved it.)
In short measure, he had brewed a fresh pot of coffee, donned his Official Spring Tilling Clothing, and was making the Boy very jealous. The Boy likes tools and machines as much as his daddy, and stood looking forlornly on, waiting for a turn to try.
In one day, we went from unbroken sod, to this:
Tilled, amended, tilled again, edged with brick, and both transplanted and planted. Our oldest was given the edging bricks in which to plant her more invasive herbs, my husband went more than a bit overboard on transplanting Walla Walla sweet onions, we put in lots of lettuce, fifty bare root strawberries, and even artichokes as an experiment.
And, it being my husband’s first official kitchen garden, and me not being terribly inclined to go outside a lot, the weeds have been our most prolific crop. We’ll do better with it next year, with more soil amendment, a different layout, some raised beds, and a lot more weeding.
But, who knew how beautiful an artichoke could be, when you ignore it, and then don’t pick the bracts before they open (at the edible stage), and so get to see them flower?
We’re by no means good suburban farmers, but it’s a start.
I can’t wait for the seed catalogs this winter.