Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Garden (such as it is)

In my dreams I have a beautiful plot of perfectly flat land. There is an orchard towards the back and a place for chickens to hunt and peck in a moveable coup. I have a perfectly designed potager where flowers and kitchen vegetables and herbs live in perfect harmony. In this fantasy world I am a Master Gardener and I never have doubts or hesitations when it comes to dealing with any decision that has to be made.

My reality is somewhat different!

In truth I have about a third of an acre that is situated on the side of a fairly steep hill. I have a large cedar tree on one side of the rectangular backyard and a large hackberry tree on the other. On the opposite point in the back from the cedar sits a very large birch tree that is fighting a much smaller pink dogwood. Each of these two sit on a raised area just off my back patio- an area that that is sloped down to the yard and allows me to plant flowers. The whole thing is has a natural rock border and is surrounded by a wooden scalloped fence.

Salad Bowl

My dirt is mostly clay and rocks so raised bed gardening became my best option. I have three four by seven beds, one two by four, one three by three, and an area that runs along two different fences that totals about seven feet of eighteen inch strip of vertical growing area. Additionally there is a strip along the north side of my house that holds about a half dozen raspberry plants. Last year was the first year that I was able to get anything worth mentioning out of that bed. My raspberry philosophy thus far as been to ignore them. Something tells me thought that greater yields may be found with a little more attention (ahem: ANY attention!).

 Fence line

At any given point any one of these areas may be in shade though all of them usually get at least six hours of mostly full sun each summer day.

I have recently been gifted a greenhouse that is about 16 square feet. I’ve only just begun to figure out what to do with it. Let alone where it’s permanent resting place will be.

I have a shelving area in my garage where I have designed a grow light area using cheap shop lights from Lowes. I currently have enough grow light area for four flats of 72 cells at a time and last year was able to successfully grow all of my vegetables in this space. This year I have added one heat mat (I need more) and flower seeds to the mix.

It may sound like a lot but there is rarely a point in my gardening season where I am not trying to figure out how to juggle the space, heat, and light requirements of the seedlings that I’ve started.

Gardening for me is more than just a way to soak up sunlight, it’s a daily reminder of my place in the world. It cautions me to have patience, to bide my time until the moment is right. It makes me slow down and truly appreciate that good things take time and work and that it’s alright to not have instant gratification. It has taught me that what I can grow will always taste better than anything that the mainstream grocery stores have to offer. It gives me a purpose outside of my daily responsibilities and it reminds me not to take myself too seriously. It is therapy and it is the every essence of what it means to be alive.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my seeds are calling me.


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