Saturday, February 25, 2006


I do not know how to garden, not really. I have tried since I was 13. I put many hours into my first attempts. Imagine a flat piece of land, 20 acres actually with about a dozen sticks that we called trees that were gifts from the utility company, who gave them out under the stipulation that you had to plant them in the precise position that they said as this was supposed to in years to come shade the house and so lower the air conditioning bill. Of course my parents hardly used the air conditioner anyway-I learned when to open and close windows for maximum coolness throughout the day from them.

Besides the sticks and endless fields of weeds we had a front flower bed. My mother had a flower bed in front, or perhaps the frogs owned it-I'm sure they thought they did. My mother planted these hydranga bushes among various other plants. But those bushes stand out the most in my mind. There was a sidewalk that led to the front door of our house and the bushes were so wide that they leaned out of their bed and completely covered it, making everyone walk around in the dirt. One time when my parents had a little extra money they doubled the width of the front sidewalk, so that the bushes could keep their share and we could walk on ours. My mother has gone Home, but whenever I see a hydranga bush I think of her, it is like one of the many signatures she has left behind. I love those signatures.

The spring of my thirteenth year I claimed a spot next to our "compost" heap and declared it my garden. I enlisted my 3 younger brothers to help my remove rocks before I could plant. We spent a month and got about three wagon loads full. I thought that was enough and so I dug and then I planted seeds and dutifuly watered them. I can remember the mud holes watering would create. By the next day the dirt would be dry and cracked. I kept at it for awhile but nothing but weeds ever grew. The next year we did a family garden in what had once been a very large sandbox. I can remember the plants in rows, but I think we must of forgot to water on one of those 102 days because they all died. One year though we had good luck that encouraged me for ever so long. We had hoses that would run all the way down to the animals; chickens, goats, rabbits and a horse with others thrown in every now and then. We would turn this hose on up at the house before we would feed and it dripped under the faucet. It was also almost directly over the sewer. Well that year there was what we had thought was a weed that was growing and growing then one day it had little green tomatoes on it. I was so excited. I didn't eat them, one of those ultra picky children you know, but I loved picking them and thinking they grew from our very own land.

After I was married and we bought our first house, I attempted another garden, the corn stalks grew, but we got no corn on them. That house did have a plum tree that was too tangy to eat raw so I made fruit leather, a delicious cherry tree that we ate fresh and dried. And a very sour apple tree with very small apples on it, yes now I know that I should have thinned them. We stayed at that house 18 months, just long enough to repair it and redo the yard then we moved north to a newer home on a large lot. This house had a tangelo tree, and I immediately got chickens. I planted in pots that first year as the land wasn't ready, and then we moved again this time into an apartment, for 2 years. I had 2 grape vines, an apple and a pear tree along with pots for vegetables. We haven't gotten any grapes, apples or pears yet and that was almost 4 years ago, but we will get them out of their pots and into the ground now that we are in a house again with a yard. I have had some success with strawberries in pots, though.

So it is February and I have taken a desk calender and seeds and marked when I want to plant seeds, when they need to be transplanted and when they should be ready to harvest. I am determined to someday have a productive garden. My sister-in-law has a mound of composted horse manure, and I will go get a truck load within the next couple of weeks then I will disk it into the designated garden spot, plant, water, try to figure out that fertilizing thing and hope for the best... while I am at it, I think I will get a couple hydranga's for my front flower beds.

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