Monday, April 11, 2011

Staying Present

This humble beginning of a new garden is my idea of peace, quiet, and relaxation, right now. It's almost all I can think about, and I'm wondering what's gotten into me. It was so much work turning the soil, though in retrospect, it wasn't that bad! I did ask myself, at some point in the middle of that process, "What were you thinking?", but clearly, I needed to do it.

Despite the sore hands from pulling deep roots of wild weeds, dirt everywhere when coming inside to clean up, aching back from bending over said weeds and dirt, and the incessant thoughts of how easily I have murdered at least two previously owned aloe plants, I enjoyed it immensely! I began to realize, I love working in dirt!

I am completely winging it as I go along, and learning about everything I do as I do it...and there is so much to learn! But, this seemingly simplistic new hobby of mine is apparently a precise and elaborate science.

(This is not me. ↓)

I've got a whole lineup of vegetable seeds (plus tomatoes and cantaloupe), which I clumsily translated to a geeky spreadsheet, including all appropriate information from the backs of their respective packages. This sort of helped me, but I think it more effectively helped me to feel like I was making intelligent decisions for the design and layout...

(This is not my garden. ↓)

Apparently, when planning a [small] vegetable garden, it is important to consider the typical height of each plant, as something like corn, for example, will eventually shade whatever's on its southern side. Something else I should mention: halfway through the tilling of my brand-spanking-new garden, I realized that the silly fence shades it almost entirely at some point during the day! I just about cried, until I figured out that the garden will receive at least six hours of sunlight each day until the late afternoon, which according to my garden-savvy neighbors, is enough (Whew!).

In my desperate search for free gardening information online, I found a very distressing website that somehow alluded to plant families needing to be in a particular order, as in Cucurbits being next to Roots but not Leaf Crops...whatever that means! I figured out what my expectant seeds are, of course, only to realize that I have no idea how to arrange these plants in the order specified; particularly within the confines of 12x7' garden plot. And what if I have only so many Cucurbits, damn it? That smart website couldn't answer that question, and thankfully, I didn't bookmark it for future reference to taunt me again. I figure if the arrangement of roots and leafy veggies are that important I'll either learn it as I go along, from another equally insightful but hopefully more comprehensive source, or I'll learn the hard way: by trial and error!

This all goes without mention of a potential full-on war with the greedy little squirrels, who would clearly intend to attack my lovely veggie garden from the start. After all, they bicker when we gather the cherries, and something ruins every single apple on the apple tree clearly placed for human consumption! Still no decision about the nemesis-squirrels, however, as the seeds aren't in the ground just yet. But I'm hoping to simply prevent their sabotage with a cayenne pepper and water solution sprayed over the garden - another acquired tidbit online.

Finally, I've begun to go really mad. All this deliberation on adequate sunlight, plant hierarchies, and antagonist squirrels has me reeling! I finish the silly garden design, though not as originally planned on the fancy-pants Google SketchUp (Must I learn to garden and master 3D modeling? I think not.), and proceed with the seedlings - which, with much love and attention, are growing their little stems off! (Though I don't seem to love them enough, just yet, to have taken pictures!)

I can't stop thinking about gardening, and I can't wait to achieve the next step in the evidently super-exciting process. I don't want to do my schoolwork. I don't want to watch t.v. (though that's hardly newsworthy). I don't want to do anything but garden! If I didn't have to sleep, I might not, and I wonder if I can make it to the end of this semester without completely failing my classes in desperate anticipation of the freedom thereafter.

I may kill all but the most hardy of my little seedlings, sure. Maybe that's why I've not taken pictures - I don't want to get too attached to the little guys, after all. It is heartbreaking to fail at maintaining and preserving life like that...especially for something as purportedly hardy as ivy or aloe. But I am determined to succeed, now. My garden will produce, not only living and thriving life, but sustaining and organic produce for my family! What a concept!

p.s. We're also thinking of erecting a chicken coop, and yes, even owning a couple of chickens. It's apparently called Urban Homesteading, and it's awesome.

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.

~ Hanna Rion