Saturday, May 17, 2008

News Flash

I'm not 25 anymore.

I've suspected it for a long time (for fifteen years or so), but I've finally just today confirmed it.

When I was twenty-five I only had one little boy. I was home all day and bored and there was a large flat area of the back yard not being used for anything. So I decided almost on a whim to dig a garden.

We were broke which meant we didn't own a tiller so it was me, a baby in a play pen, and a shovel. For two days--shortly after breakfast until lunch, then from lunch until supper, I dug, de-rocked, broke up clods of dirt and tossed aside clumps of grass.I preferred to work without gloves; I liked the feeling of the shovel handle in my hands and the dirt between my fingers. I only wore them when I handled tomato plants as I'm allergic to something on the leaves.

At night, I was a little sore, but that was all. Not even a blister.

It wasn't a big garden--just fourteen by twenty feet or so--but it took four days of hard work to create the hills and rows I wanted. I planted several tomato plants, green beans, squash (waaaay too much squash), kohlrabi, and water melons. I spent a happy summer caring for my crops and harvesting the results. What a heady experience it was to can my own green beans and then eat them that winter.

I was hooked and became an avid organic gardener after that. I dug that garden by hand every year. Then did the same at the next house as well, though the guy I played music with got wind of what I was doing and snuck over with a tiller and tilled it for me our last two years in that house.

When we moved here I believed I'd given up being able to garden. Living this close to the lake generally means raised beds, and I just can't afford truckloads of top soil, nor the treated lumber. So I (sadly) put aside my gardening aspirations. It was just as well; I went to work about the same time and I've been too busy to deal with it ever since.

I've grieved for it, to be honest with you. I love everything about gardening--planning where to put what, digging in the dirt, caring for the plants, trouble-shooting problems, harvesting, freezing and canning. I'd drive past other people's gardens and look longingly at their corn, pole beans, and tomatoes and tried not to turn green when other people talked about their crops.

But I'm home full-time for now and decided to see if I could turn up a spot in the yard that would yield enough dirt to plant a small crop. I dug around and was pleased to find a relatively flat spot (about ten by twelve) with a fair amount of top soil.

A friend's husband volunteered to till it for me, but his tiller kept throwing bolts; he did little more than break up the surface, but that was a big help.

So today it was me and a shovel and a pick, turning over the soil. I worked hard for the first thirty minutes, was weak in the knees, my back and arms were complaining bitterly, and my hands really hurt. I literally had to take a break, drank lots of water and went back to work. Another thirty minutes and I needed another break. I finally put on gloves and that helped some. But after another thirty minutes, I gave up and called in reinforcements in the form of a teenage boy. I picked up the hoe while he took over the shovel. We worked together for three hours. The other boys joined in cheerfully, hauling off rocks, jeering at one anothers lack of strength as each one of them took a turn with the pick ax. Even with all the help, we didn't even get half-done. However I did get the squash planted (yellow crook neck and acorn squash) so I guess that's something.

In my defense, part of the problem was that we were all turning up hundreds and hundreds of rocks, boulders even (Okay, not boulders, but they were big). We now have a substantial pile of rock at the edge of the garden--enough to build a wall with.

We'll get a lot further tomorrow when Gary can pitch in with the pick and maybe I'll get the rest of the planting done.

But still. I had to ask for help.

Tonight, I'm so sore it hurts to type. I have blisters on my palms. My legs hurt, my back hurts, my feet hurt. I think even my hair hurts.

And I'm almost 43. Not 25.

But I do have the beginnings of a garden.


Debby said...

I'm starting a garden, again. What I do is break a small area, plant it, and then focus on making the area bigger during the summer. Next year it will be a little bigger, I will plant more, and I will clear a bit bigger place. It's different for me though. I don't have 4 boys at home, so I can afford to be patient.

alice said...

Oh - we garden blogged at the same time. Yours is far more interesting though. I love to garden!

jeanie said...

None of us are (getting any younger, that is).

Loved your garden post - you really do have a feel.

And speaking of a feel - in your last post (how lazy, commenting on the last post in this one) - don't just hush when people should KNOW there are other opinions in the world.

Its called DEMOCRACY - and we all have the right to a voice - good on you for using yours!

Mary O. Paddock said...

Deb--My sixty-three year old mother and stepfather told me something similar today. 'Pointed out that I had nothing to prove to anyone. Mom told me she'd always done it your way, over the course of several days--breaking ground, planting, then breaking more ground. I told her I think I'm recalling a golden Mary that never existed and she laughed and said we all do that.

Hello Alice! I loved your blog entry. I may come looking for advice!

Hi Jeanie and thank you on all counts.