|Our community's new milking cow, Sugar.|
If you aren’t a gardener, perhaps the allure of rolling up your sleeves and sinking your hands in the dirt is lost on you. I can see how it seems like a total waste of time given how cheap and accessible fruits and vegetables from the store are these days. But little by little it becomes something one just does and can hardly stop from doing. My half dozen neighbors who are moving away this season were saying as much when they found themselves starting seeds and planting gardens even though they may not be around for harvest time. Sometime long ago I think I got the urge, perhaps from years of my mother dedicating small patches of our suburban yards to my sister’s and mine gardening experimentation. She would urge us to go through seed catalogues and pick out what we wanted and even when we would yield only dinky-sized pumpkins and watermelon we would feel the thrill of gardening victory. I guess I got hooked. I can remember going to great effort to construct planter boxes when I was in college and had tests to study for, even though nothing seemed to want to thrive in the grimy semi-shade of a city apartment’s back porch (go figure). I have attempted to garden everywhere I have lived, in all sorts of climates, soils, and odds stacked against me. So to finally have a real garden—a big one with full southern exposure and the time to tend it is a dream come true for me.
With a few seasons under my belt here, this year I attempted to apply the knowledge of past experience to this season’s garden. For example, last year our toddler got in the habit of poking around in our indoor seedling trays and pulling up signs of life, so this year I arranged a swap with out Amish neighbor Lena who has a small greenhouse (and the greenest thumb around) to caretake our seedlings. Success! Last year our plants were showing signs of nitrogen deficiency, so this year I made sure every bed got plenty of composted manure. Last year the raccoons and other animals destroyed our corn and tomatoes in our unfenced garden expansion, so this year we put up new fencing around both gardens. Last year cabbage worms attacked our broccoli, and fleabettles destroyed our eggplant, so this year I am trying out floating row covers over both crops. Last year our daughter developed a habit of stomping through the beds, delighting in how she could make her parents leap to their feet yelling, so this year, we have focused her attention on her new, kid-sized watering can and how she can be helpful (and if not, banished her to a sandbox nearby). You get the idea. This year will likely bring its own garden setbacks, but for now, before the full force of the season humbles me once again, I am feeling victorious. I am sure it too will pass…
Okay, I should stop raving about our momentary successes and get back to monitoring for flea battles and cabbage worms and tomato horn worms. And bigger projects too. This year, we are ambitiously installing a solar system on our house and embracing a little more electricity into our lives. I am sure to most people, the system we have ordered is quite tiny in size, but to us and relative to our luddite neighbors, it is large… 6 panels (or modules if you want to sound like you are a solar insider!) This process too has brought its own learning curve, which—though interesting—has left me understanding why there is an industry of engineers and installers dedicated to it. I can definitely say this is not a project for every DIYer, but the cost savings and the fact that our neighbors DIYed their system lured us in to the challenge. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about our (hopefully) successful solar installation, coming soon!