Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Myself as the Reluctant Gardener

And so it has begun again - my ongoing love/hate relationship with gardening.  
When I was a child I was aggravated to no end by the endless pulling of weeds and watering of beans.  Beyond that, the picking, the snapping, the canning and the freezing, the dehydrating - it all seemed endless from May thru October.  Even the winter months were consumed with something harvest related:  dried beans to hull, popcorn to roll off the cob with red, roughened hands, nuts to be coaxed from their shells.  My parents were gardeners extraordinaire - they still are - and along with the heirloom standbys they "adventured" every year in the soil.  Peanuts, mung beans, Jerusalem artichokes, loofah sponges...a few exotic species annually just for the fun of trying something new.  And still, this week, at 86 and 6 months out from a broken hip, my father will pull out his tiller and churn the dirt in an effort to fulfill the perpetual pull of spring on a gardener's heart.  We offered to help, but he will have nothing of it.  It's his garden; ground that has been stewarded by his family since 1914.  I suspect that he will turn it over until he, himself, is called to rest.

Pecans, Walnuts, Hickory nuts to be picked out.  Winter's harvest work.

I don't have an actual "love" for gardening like that; but I do have the genetic pull.  I can't help it.  If there is soil, I am compelled to "grow" things.  I know's how I spent my childhood and although I swore then that I'd never garden once I reached independence, it's how I've spent over 20 years of married life.  It would just seem wrong to know how to grow things and not do it.  Let's just say I'm genetically predisposed.

Ben, eating peas.
 So, right now, the peas and bok choy and romaine and spinach are calling my name.  I don't start seeds indoors, and I don't generally purchase plants already started from the gardening store.  (Although I have, at times.)  I have hundreds of tiny early spring lettuces and crucifers that I grow in a "herd," then I transplant them into small rows in various beds located around my house and fence.  This is my third year of "city-gardening," making use of small spaces by growing things vertically (cukes, pumpkins, squash, beans) and also utilizing successive planting.  It's amazing the amount that can be grown on a small plot by these two methods.

I also don't garden in huge swaths of time.  There are challenges to gardening with many small children.  With a six month old baby, I have to use small snippets of moments to run outside and transplant a few plants as I am able.  Also, every year my young children must be reminded of the perimeters.  "You may dig HERE, but not THERE."  "Please do not drive your dumptrucks in mama's garden."

But all in all, Spring brings a compulsion to all things gardening.  Even with little boys prone to digging and cabbage worms to be plucked from the crucifers, it is worth it.  Gardening brings a satisfaction at the thought of growing healthy food for my family, and a sense of thankfulness for this ability that God has placed within humankind in general and in me, specifically.

By July, when it is 98 degrees with 80 percent humidity, I'm not so fond of it.

 I'm linking today to my friend Connie's Gardening Guide.  Mine is not so much a guide as a....philosophy, I guess.  But take from it what you will.

Connie has been a good friend of mine for years.  She and her family were so helpful to us during our time of medical crisis last year.  Now, I see that her husband has been laid off.  If you have read at Connie's blog and have been blessed by her, I encourage you to stop by and leave her any thoughts or suggestions or prayers on her family's behalf.  Another thing that we can do to help (which I will be doing) is to click through her Amazon link when I need to purchase something online.   If I'm going to buy something anyway - why not help someone out?  I know that a lot of people are struggling with the same issue at this time - this is just one little way we can help others thru a time of crisis.  We can  pray, encourage, and offer  practical support.  It meant so much to me when everyone (you!) helped us.


  1. Thank you Jill! I should have said that I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago. We've had so much rain here that almost everything is ragtag looking from the deluge. I'm still tryin', though. :)

  2. Thank you so much, Holly! (I have always loved looking at your gardening photos!)

  3. I find it very challenging to garden with a little one! Mine is almost 11 months old, and he wants to eat every.thing in the garden! And I'm not talking about the vegetables. LOL!

    Hope you join in with Frugal Gardening 101 next week, too!

  4. Thanks, Connie and Phoebe! It is a challenge. But we persevere. :)