Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stewart, Stewart, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

I hate to love gardening. I love to hate gardening? Despite being pretty hard-core domestic, I've never gotten into gardening. My Mom and Mom-Mom were super into it, as are my MiL and SiL. Cook, clean, host parties, do needlework...I just never really wanted to garden. Obviously I didn't garden when I lived in the city and the house we lived in in Greer just wasn't really a gardening kind of house. First, it was on clay. Red, hard, clay. We lived on a very slight incline and there were two deep trenches on either side of the house where the water would run down after it rained. Nothing wanted to live in that clay. I saw neighbors have sod professionally installed, and have sprinkler systems, and within one year their yards looked barren.

The wife of the couple who lived in this house before we did was obviously way into gardening. The left side of our yard is contained by a split rail fence and in it there are some nice trees and some hardy (because I sure haven't done a darn thing to them) flowering bushes. It looks great and hasn't needed any attention aside from an occaisional waving of the hedge trimmer. Our house now is on a steep incline and the right side of the yard has two stepped gardens that were full of flowers. Since I didn't move into this house until July of last year, I really didn't have time to do anything with the stepped gardens. They became full of weeds and ivy and some steriod-pumping mint. I recognized three rose bushes (with pink roses! YAY!) and a sage bush, but that was it. Late last summer I decided I should do something with the garden, so I bought a big ol' container of spectracide and sprayed it everywhere. I couldn't tell what was a weed and what was supposed to be there. When I got done the hours of hand-pumping poison, I basically decided that this garden would become survival of the fittest. Whatever could live through the spectracide would just continue to live in the garden.

I've always liked the idea of a victory garden, though. Being relatively self-sufficient and having yummy fruit and vegetables seems like a cool thing to do. This year for my birthday (in early May) I asked my MiL, SiL, Shauna and one of my aunts to come over and help me with the garden. I didn't want them to do it for me, I just wanted people who knew what they were doing to tell me what to pull up and what can stay. When I told this to my MiL, she sprang into action. She bought me a truckload of mulch, and another truckload of mushroom compost and topsoil. One Saturday a few weeks ago she and her sister just showed up, insisted that I keep working on my homework, and weeded both gardens. YAY!!! They got six bags of weeds and dead stuff! They pulled up some flowers, too, which is fine with me. They left me with homework to till in the mushroom compost. Uh, mushroom compost is basically manure. Over the course of 2 days I spread 560 pounds of mushroom compost over the garden, then took a shovel and turned and turned and turned it into the dirt. I felt like Scarlett O'Hara! Then on Good Friday my family came back and helped me plant all kinds of cool stuff that they said would grow well: lantana (a flower that my Mom and Mom Mom like to plant because it does well in hot weather with little water), strawberry bushes, green bell peppers, tomato plants, jalapeno peppers, 2 kinds of squash, cucumbers, eggplant, habanero pepper, and thai hot pepper.

Now I water that garden for like 10 minutes every day and I just can't get enough of being out there. I spread cedar mulch over most of it, but the peppers and tomatoes apparently need the acidity of pine straw, so I bought three bales of that today. Here's the thing: I still hate gardening. I also now hate weeds and disorder. I do like feeling strong and accomplished when I get done a big task, like spreading all that compost. I hear myself saying, "I hate gardening" when I'm picking little weed after little weed. Who knows? Maybe in a few years I'll be really good at it, like my SiL and Shauna, and maybe in a decade or so I'll be showing the youngins how it's done.

Also, I promise to post pics! I promise the garden transformation would be more dramatic with before and after pics, but I always realize this about everything (laying down floor, stripping wallpaper, painting rooms, decorating the house, etc.) when the project is done, so there's no chance for a before pic.

No comments: