Yesterday I tweeted out this picture of a teensy baby asparagus from our garden.
And it was greeted with triumphant flourishes and many huzzahs!
Only it wasn’t. But that’s okay. Considering that I thought the asparagus seeds were never going to germinate, I was excited enough to share, and that’s enough.
The fact of the matter is that our garden is currently the most exciting place to be. Well…I guess that notion extends to any garden, but ours is pretty damn awesome because we’re finally getting to see the first hints of the fruits (and vegetables) of our labors. Of course, things will get even more awesome once the veggies really start to appear, but we’re out of the “will they or won’t they grow?” stage with all the seedlings. Some haven’t survived, but many more have, and the hard part is over. No more digging, tilling, moving soil, buying soil, or moving more soil. No more babysitting tiny seedlings under plant lamps, cajoling them to please, please, pretty please grow(!) and ensure that our seed purchases were not wasted. Everything is in the ground. The vegetable plants now look like vegetable plants (as opposed to weeds), and we’re heading into a grand summer of regular maintenance, frequent watering, and gradual harvesting.
From the moment we bought our house, we knew that the backyard was going to be a garden…eventually. No stupid grass to mow, no arid tumbleweeds, no uncomfortable, rocky turf to navigate. Just gardens of vegetables and flowers. In fact, one of the big things that attracted us to our house in the first place was that the owners had, at some point in the past, started a couple rudimentary garden beds (nothing raised or fancy, just bare, demarcated patches of soil). Therefore, we didn’t have to start completely from scratch. Over the past couple years, we’ve supplemented those beds with proper soil and compost and added several different raised garden beds of our own. Eventually we’ll get to that garden-only back yard, but for now our lawnmower still gets a good workout.
If you’d have said to me five years ago,”cary, you’re gonna love gardening someday,” I’d have responded with a sly “maybe,” while thinking yeah, right. My parents had gardens for as long as I can remember. At one house we had a huge garden that produced more than enough for the family. At another house, our gardens were scattered – tomatoes in one spot, peppers in another, cucumbers and zucchini elsewhere. But I can’t say that I was bit by the garden bug at an early age. The gardens, the vegetables, they were just “there,” easy to take for granted. Once I moved away from home and fell head-long into my roaring twenties, gardening disappeared. I mean, maybe a few stray thoughts on cultivating occurred upon moving into a new rental home with a nice backyard. However thoughts of me actually planning, preparing, and maintaining a garden were quite unlikely during those progressive years. In fact, counting back from this day, only five years ago did notions of growing vegetable plants occur once again after…well…a very long time.
My husband and I were living in a rental townhome then with a porch off the upstairs bedroom. Not too long after we moved in, sitting out there on a transitional winter-spring day, we noticed how warm and sunny it was despite the chill in the air. Words sprung. Why not put a few plants out here; spruce the place up a bit, maybe. Neither of us had much recent hands-on experience with plants, but we conversed for a little while on the topic. Then I offhandedly mentioned that one of my co-workers had offered us a couple of her heirloom tomato seedlings. Huh, tomatoes? Maybe that was the way to go. While flowers were pretty and made for nice nose- and eye-candy, tomato plants would give us something we could use. Plus, if we did get a house one day, maybe we’d want to try gardening. This could be a test run. And that was that. We headed off to the store that day and came home with soil, four planters (the kind that sit on porch railings), and several cherry tomato plants. (I later got the tomato seedlings from my co-worker, and we added them to the bunch.)
We still have those planters, only today they hold basil and thyme. The tomato plants get to expand all they want in the ground.
I can’t flat out proclaim “I love gardening!” with any efficacy. At least not yet. As much as I hate to admit it, the months leading up to actual growing and eventual harvesting, they…how can I put this delicately…? They suck. Guys, really, I’m not the outdoorsy type, and I’m not a fan of spiders, traipsing through dirt, or back pain, all of which come with garden preparation. And right now, a big part of that preparation, especially as we expand the garden, involves a lot of heavy lifting, one too many trips to the hardware store (leading to sizable outpourings of cash), and wearing through old clothes like you would not believe. Yet as with anything, with practice comes comfort. The more I integrate the yearly cycle of gardening into my life, the more natural it will all become. And the excitement of witnessing unexpected growth (seriously, we thought the asparagus seeds were done for), that will only get better and better with time.