I've started a garden. The rabbits and squirrels must think I've put out a buffet. They're eating my potatoes, my watermelons, my radishes, my turnips - i have my spinach and lettuces and tomatoes covered, and they've been safe so far.
Shit. I was supposed to water tonight. I'll get up early and do that, I guess. I put soaker hoses in my raised bed, and they work okay, but i think maybe the fact that i didn't really know what i was doing, or bother to actually research so i could have an idea of what i was doing, has maybe resulted in me not putting the hoses in the best possible places to keep my garden watered properly. But you know what? It gets watered. And I'll have a better idea of what I'm doing and how best to do it next year. Who knows, maybe I'll even do some book learnin' and find out how the professionals do things.
This garden has been a bit of, well, it's sort of...
I almost criticized it. My garden is awesome. The power of words, people. I was telling Jimi the other night about the time, when I was about 8, my girlfriend's mom criticized a new outfit I'd been so proud of - she said it looked like i was wearing a garbage bag. I was devastated, and the outfit I'd adored just a moment before was suddenly so embarrassing for me. I took it off as soon as i got home and hung it back in the closet and never wore it again - forever feeling guilty because it'd been pretty expensive and I'd begged my mom to buy it for me. And I was sad every time I saw it hanging there, because I'd loved it and that ugly mean woman had ruined it for me. Who says something like that to a little girl? Anyhow, back to the garden - so, someone close to me may have made a statement or two that lead me to interpret that this person finds the placement of my garden distasteful and unsightly. And maybe enough people have slowed down while driving by to check out what I've got going on there in my side yard that I've taken notice and can't decide if I should beam with pride or cower with embarrassment. I'm trying really hard to beam, people. I love my garden so much. And you know, I've had 5 neighbors ask me about my little would-be at-home grocery, but not one has offered anything that sounded like a complaint. In fact, two shared stories of their own gardens (safely hidden away in their back yards, of course), one offering any help or cuttings, and the other actually bringing me 4 heirloom tomato plants she'd started from seeds given to her by an Amish farmer. They're supposed to be pink. I hope those fucking squirrels leave them alone.
I love my garden. I go out every day and check the progress of each plant, talking to them, plucking any weeds that may have sprouted up (at first, i thought i had the fastest growing lettuces in the world!), snapping a few pictures of their progress with the intention of creating a collage I'll probably never realistically get around to, but whatever. G digs in the dirt with me (and dug up the first batch of radishes and turnips we planted within days of us putting the seeds in the ground).
"...Maybe next year you can just move it around back." The implication of the words is that I've put my little labor of love in an inappropriate spot. It makes me feel small and embarrassed and I sort of want to just turn my back on the entire project and ignore it completely and let it overgrow and forget about it and just pretend it isn't even there any more. I have a history of doing that with things.
"Yeah. Maybe I'll move my boxes and bags and things, but leave the dirt, because dirt is heavy as shit and I'm not moving all that dirt. I'll buy new dirt. But I could plant flowers there next year."
"Yeah! You could plant some shrubs and some rose bushes and some pretty ground cover..." she latches onto the idea, and you can almost hear in her voice the relief that maybe next year I won't have a 4x12 raised bed right smack in the middle of my side yard, all out in the open between the house and the street. Or maybe it's the 9 coffee bean bags full of dirt growing potatoes and carrots and squash and pumpkins and watermelon that she finds more offensive. probably the bags.
But here's the thing. When I started plotting this garden back in December, all full of new-baby hormones and love and free time and shit, I spent a lot of time looking out my windows, watching which parts of my yard get the best sun during the day. My side yard? Sun, all day. ALL day. Sunny in the morning, sunny in the late afternoon, sunny in between. That was my spot, that spot right there. I was going to grow us some mother eating vegetables. I have a buddy who does a compost thing at the local university, and when i asked if there'd be any to spare, she said i could have a truckload or two of compost, free of charge. Score! And we could get pallets from work to build the boxes. I planned to do four 4'x4' beds, with a concrete block border (planted with herbs and bee-attracting flowers) and mulched pathways.
Okay, so, I need to stop for a moment and remind you that when I made that plan, I was like 4 weeks postpartum. I was taking placenta pills every day. I was nursing for 12 hours a day, but i was sleeping most nights. My toddler was cool - she was watching the fuck out of some Netflix. I was high on life. And apparently, living in a fantasy land.
First. Two little girls under two. The amount of time it used to take to do something, it now takes 5 times as long. I'm not really exaggerating. I feel a lot of the time like I'm trying to run in quicksand. We're in a hurry, we have to get out the door, but oh my god, first we have to change the baby, then change G, then find G's shoes, then get G's jacket, while someone's getting the baby into her seat and now G's lost Meow and we have to find her, where was she last? In the bedroom, go get Meow, okay, we have lunches, diaper bag, laptop, coffee, let's go - GODDAMMIT Finnegan! You cannot go to work today get back in this house!
I decided pretty quickly that us taking apart and re-appropriating pallets probably wasn't something that was actually going to happen. I know that there are a lot of people out there who are good at doing projects like that while also having children, but we are not those people. I feel really proud of myself when a night like tonight happens - we made it to Friday. So I planned to buy some lumber and build boxes. I even looked up tutorials. I had a plan.
By the time the snow had stopped and the days were getting warmer, I'd long since been back at work full time. My days start at 5:30 a.m. and I don't get to sit down and take that deep "I've done everything I'm supposed to do today and no one needs me at this moment and now I can take a minute to do what I want to do and just breathe" breath until after 10 most nights. (This is why I haven't blogged in 7 months - who has the time?!) And then everyone started getting sick. Thanks, Ohio Valley. And then it was raining for like 4 weeks in a row. Did I mention I also don't own a truck with which to pick up a truckload or two of compost?
I had a Kroger bag full of seed packets and a couple of Walmart bags full of bulbs and shoots and vines and roots and whatevers - I'd get them out every few days after the girls had gone to bed, or maybe on the rare occasion that they were both napping at the same time on a rainy Saturday afternoon, making notes on a little yellow notepad about how many plants I'd need of each type, how they'd be spaced, how many days to harvest. I'd started my seeds and it was getting to be time to get them planted. But I had no dirt and no raised bed boxes built.
Lowe's had some raised beds on sale. We are lazy. I bought two, along with 10 bags of garden soil. Then I bought 10 coffee bean bags from the local roaster down the way. I filled the bags a quarter full of dirt and seed taters and set them out in the sun, where I'd planned.
It turns out, trees grow leaves in Spring. I'd not accounted for that when I plotted my garden.
I still get a good solid 7 hours of sun, but I'd forgotten all about the two huge trees at the head and end of our garden patch. And, as it turns out, my back yard, that was all shady all winter, is full of sun in the summer. And I never did get a truck to go scoop compost, so i ended up buying some garden mix soil and having it delivered. It wasn't cheap, but at this point, who cares? (Did I mention the tiller we bought?)
In the end, it's gong to be awesome. Most things are growing well, and if i can keep the critters away, we should have a good crop come in. I'm hoping i can keep G interested in helping and learning as the summer progresses and our produce starts showing up on the dinner table. And I'm trying really hard to not be that 8 year old girl hiding away and ignoring something she loves because someone else can't quite see the same beauty I see.
I asked Jimi, "Is my garden ugly? Is it an eyesore?"
"Yeah, kinda. But all gardens are. You put yours there because that's the best place for it."
"But you didn't even try to stop me! You didn't say one word about me putting out coffee bean bags full of dirt and you even built the bug-net tee pee for me!"
"No, why would I? You're trying to grow us FOOD, to feed our family. And it's making you so happy. Why would I say anything to discourage that? If anyone has a problem with it, I'll tell them to go fuck themselves."
And there you have it.