Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Mrs. Grows A Garden

When we were house hunting ten years ago, The General and I had a very short list of must haves.  Basically the search for our first home required the following:

  1. Three bedrooms
  2. Central air conditioning
  3. A big yard

We looked at a few before knowing touring the little white brick house on the curve in Carbon Hill and both knew pretty quickly on the tour that this would become our first house.  I think The General would agree with me that it was the yard that pretty much sealed the deal.

Now, I'm no green thumb but I've been quietly pestering The General for a few years now that we should really try our hand at self-sufficiency and grow a garden.  I mean, if we are really to stand any chance of surviving a zombie apocalypse, one would think that the know-how for growing your own food might  come in handy.  The girls have joined my efforts, proclaiming almost every spring for the last four years that they would like to grow vegetables in their own gardens.  Helping Papa harvest cucumbers in his garden an hour away just wasn't cutting it anymore.

I'll admit that the passing of my Grapa definitely spurred my desire to start a home grown garden.  He was masterful at planting, growing, and harvesting some of the most beautiful produce.  In a way, I felt a strong desire to honor his memory by carrying on his legacy.  The General, realizing I wasn't going to give up this topic, finally agreed to loan me a 10x12 foot section of his lawn for our very first family garden.  The payment required?  This was my baby, my undertaking, my responsibility.

Two weekends ago, on a hot Sunday afternoon, I dug up the garden using nothing more than a spade, some muscle, and a whole lot of willpower.  By the end of the day I was filthy, sun burnt, exhausted, and totally proud of myself.  I couldn't walk without wincing for two days afterwards thanks to the soreness in my hamstrings from all the squats I did hauling 120 square feet of sod. 

While I worked, the girls would take breaks during their fun time to offer a little encouragement.  McKenna was a little less than impressed with the process, and Elaina helped me focus on the fun part of gardening by making a list of vegetables we would be planting.

Later in the week, BOTD came to The General's rescue (he was really starting to worry about the state of his precious grass under that tower of sod); BOTD and I loaded every last square of sod into the back of his truck.  He earned that Busch Lite at the end of that task, let me tell you.  The one favor I asked of The General was to run the rototiller when it was time.  I figured the thought of operating some machinery might encourage his willingness to participate, plus I figured the tiller that used to be my Grapa's would probably be a little bit too much for me to handle.  I was totally right.  As The General declared, that thing was a beast.

Last Wednesday I couldn't hold back the urge to get something planted.  We put in some sugar snap peas and two rows of corn (which have since been deemed a mistake due to lack of room.  I already need a bigger garden!).  The following day I put in more:  three tomato plants, a couple of banana peppers, and three Big Bertha green peppers.  I also planted some marigolds around the plants (great companion plants, help keep pests away - I've done my research, people!) as well.  While planting on Thursday, I looked up at one point and realized that I had a little birdie watching me, and I mean that quite literally.  As I posted to Instagram:

Yesterday I planted the first veggies in the garden on my Grapa's birthday after we used his old tiller to work up the ground.  Today I planted a little more between light rain showers and was serenaded the whole time by a cardinal.  The St. Louis Cardinals were his favorite team.  I feel like the garden and my efforts have been blessed.

Four minutes after posting that picture, Elaina ran up to me and squealed, "EWWW!".  I had bird poop on my shoulder.  Funny, Grapa.  Reeeaaallll funny.

By Sunday, my garden was complete.  A couple zucchini plants (Elaina's choice because, as she reasoned, she LOVES zucchini plants), two bush cucumbers for McKenna plus cucumbers seeds planted ready to grow up my brand new Mother's Day gifted trellis (Thanks, General!), radishes (for Papa), green onions, jalapeno, spinach, leaf lettuce, green ice lettuce, sunflowers, and carrots.  Wheeee!!!!

Yesterday was an exciting day when I spotted our very first seedlings making their way to the surface.  Now, due to a little minor garden reconfiguration due to a riding lawn mower malfunction through the north end of the garden (a mere two hours after completion, I might add), the identity of this plant remains a mystery.  I think we've ruled out sweet corn, but can anyone confirm whether this might be a sugar snap pea (the mounds and teepee designed for these plants were disrupted by the incident I shall now refer to as Mower Gate) or a sunflower (I did plant some earlier before tilling in my haste and anxiousness to start so these are a week ahead of almost everything else)?

Tonight I noticed that we have the first flower - the jalapeno was the first to bloom.  I visit the garden at least seven or eight times between getting home after school and dark - and no, that is no exaggeration; I keep watch over it more than I did my own children as newborns - and seeing this little bloom plus three more sprouts of the mystery plant made me giddy with happiness.

There's a long way to go in this process, but I had no idea how much satisfaction the idea of growing your own produce could bring.  I'm just hoping for one edible item out of this whole process at this point, and everyone assures me I'll be swimming in vegetables by summer's end.  Still, despite several responses of "growing a garden is easy!", I'll take any suggestions you're willing to share.

In the meantime, you can follow my Twitter feed for daily updates on the One Carbon Hill Garden Chronicles.  I'm sure you'll understand if pictures of plants outnumber pictures of my children this summer.  I'm just a little bit excited.


Tru Stories said...

My garden is slow moving this Spring (though I cheat and buy the plants, rather than use seeds).

This makes me want to get my growin on!

And thanks for learning to contribute to our Zombie survival.

Munchkin said...

it's weird how excited I am to watch this through the blog. Also, Match guy planted leaf lettuce and jalapenos yesterday and I think he's going to plant strawberries and green peppers this weekend. I'm most worried about the rabbits eating everything.

Anonymous said...

The garden looks great Amanda! Johnnie and Bertha would be proud of you as well. You've come a long way from picking up those fallen apples in the back yard on Morgan Street!
You've got gardening in your genes....your garden will be great....have you started collecting coffee cans and milk jugs to protect your new plants yet? Let me know if you need me to collect.
Looking forward to the upcoming posts.
Mom/Gramma Poke...
Oh, did you plant grape tomatoes? I'll need some for salads.

AuntieM said...

your garden looks great!!! love Elainas spelling on her veggie list! i saw she has sweet peas on her list. it reminded me of my first garden right after we were married. i planted it all myself. i was so proud of my veggies and i too planted some sweet peas, but to my dismay, they were beautiful flowers and i thought i was planting peas that were sweet! they did look very strange in the middle of my garden! i;m sure you will have many great memories with yours too......and it will need to be bigger next year!!!

Tina said...

Love it! Gardening is such a fun thing to do. I enjoy it much more now as an adult that it is not a chore.

I planted an asparagus root a few years ago (they take a few years to really get going). I just cut the first "batch" the other day - six whole stalks! There are another six to cut tomorrow. Woo hoo!

Now, if it would just stop raining so I can get the garden planted....


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