When I was young, my parents had a vegetable garden. They tried their best to get me and my sisters interested in it. Kinda like my mom tried her best to get me into sewing. That was a lesson in futility. It took me and my friend, Allison, 8 hours to stitch an A-line dress that Laura Ingalls Wilder would have refused to wear, let alone a gawky 13 year old in 1980.
Maybe my sisters got into our vegetable garden, but all I remember is being hot and bothered each time my mom asked for help out there. I imagined tasting dirt anytime we ate vegetables from the garden. I thought gardens were for people who couldn’t afford to go to the grocery store. Little did I know my parents were trying to teach their three daughters life lessons that come from having a garden. Sadly, I don’t think I had the patience or the desire to understand what they were trying to teach us. But lucky me, God gave me the chance later in life to experience one…
One of the many things I admire about my husband is how he approaches any project he starts. He doesn’t do anything with half effort. That’s my job. Get the job done with the least amount of work. Maybe that’s why the A-line dress looked so bad. As long as I can remember, my husband has wanted a garden. I honestly thought gardens were for people who had gotten to the age where they had nothing else better to do with their time. I picture an elderly couple shuffling in their garden clogs, wearing their sun hats and piddling around with their aprons on as they discuss how the beetles took out the string bean crop that year.
Maybe when some men hit midlife they want a cherry red sports car. My husband hit midlife and wanted cherry red tomatoes. And he didn’t want any outside help building the garden. He wanted to do it all by himself…because he could. I pictured having a couple of raised boxes with which to experiment. But no…that would be for amateurs. He built 30 raised boxes. You read that right: 30. Have you ever had someone tell you what they wanted to do and you are listening, but not REALLY listening? That’s what happened here. I’m sure he told me he was going to go big or go home with his garden, but I never pictured what we wound up with. He built the boxes out of cedar planks and each one measured about the same size as a coffin…When I saw him and my son carrying the first one through the backyard, I thought for a nanosecond that it was a coffin he was going to bury me in. Thankfully, it was for new potatoes.
I have never been so impressed when I saw his first bumper crop. I guess I never imagined regular people producing a successful garden. Potatoes, tomatoes, green onions, spinach, romaine lettuce, basil, cilantro, tomatoes, you name it. The greatest part was when our neighbors found out that Wayne had planted enough to feed the neighborhood in case of food rationing during a war. He extended the invitation for some sweet neighbors to come pick whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. His garden turned into a neighborhood field trip for some.
I got on the computer one day during the building stage and saw a page open that said “how high do rabbits jump?” I found out he was building a fence around the garden and needed to know how high to make it in order to keep Bugs Bunny out. We frequently have wild rabbits hop around in our backyard…it has been quite entertaining to see the battle between man and beast during this whole process. Speaking of beast, he has said he wants chickens. I think he just says that to get a rise out of me. Of course, some neighbors have encouraged him to get chickens. I think they would have a hidden camera set up to see the disaster ensue. Of course, THEY don’t have chickens, but they want US to get chickens. Not going to happen, unless I get to the stage where clogs, aprons and sun hats are my go-to wardrobe pieces. I can just picture me chasing escape artist chickens down the street.
Honestly, I really am glad my husband planted our garden. There truly is something about working your hands in the dirt and watching something grow through proper care. Sharing the harvest has also been a great joy to us. At the risk of sounding cliché, there is something so basic and satisfying about growing food that nourishes yourself and others. It’s crazy how our lives can parallel the process of building and maintaining a garden. While the boxes on the outside are starting to show some decay (like my body is doing with age!), the inside is what really matters and where the good stuff is if you take care of it. But the good stuff can’t spring forth until the weeds have been pulled out and the soil is turned over and watered properly. When all that has been taken care of, the seed grows into something wonderful that can be shared with others. That’s a gentle reminder to me of how I can give more to others when I take care of the junk (pull the weeds) in my life first.
It was fun to see it all come together in the end. But the newness wears off just like it does with everything it seems. The garden will not take care of itself…it needs lots of attention. Lots of it. It’s crazy how many critters you didn’t know lived in your area until you plant a garden.
If you ever get the hankering, I highly recommend planting a garden and the entire process that it entails…whether it be one box or 30. The whole process of watching something grow brings out the kid in me. But not the kid who imagined eating dirt when the garden vegetables were served all those years ago.
I appreciate our cherry red tomatoes and I’m perfectly fine without the cherry red sports car. Thank you, Wayne…
**I’ve added a few new recipes and centerpieces to the blog. Check them out when you have a chance.