Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gardening Fun

Mother Nature is not cooperating in my desire to have a garden. No, no, no. Instead she is sending cold fronts our way left and right, and it is getting a little frustrating. Since I am such a novice to gardening, I am not sure what I am supposed to do. The past week has been beautiful, and the weather has been warm. It has been in the 70s most days, so I thought the cold had passed.

We have our gardening gear ready. We decided on several crops for our first year of gardening: tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, catnip, green beans, and basil. We have the seeds. I also have containers for several of the crops since we do not have much land for a garden plot this year. I also went out and bought all of the goodies that go along with gardening. I have gloves, a shovel, a trowel, and a couple of cute garden ornaments.

I am ready, but the land is not.

I was going to plant last weekend, but I got a nasty virus. I ended up inside sick all weekend, so planting the garden was out of the question. My wonderful husband went ahead and worked in the garden plot. He weeded everything and tilled the land. We thought that as soon as I felt better, we would be able to plant everything and get moving. Alas, it is not turning out to be that way.

Instead I am waiting inside with all of my garden stuff out. Everything is sitting in my office, taunting me, and the cold weather is back. When I went out this morning, I was pretty chilly. My guess is that it is around 40 degrees. It is not too cold to plant, but the danger of a frost tonight or the next is still here. I do not want to have my hard work go to waste because of the weather, so I will have to wait and see.

I know that farmers are more experienced at this process than I am, but you really do not think much about how much guesswork goes into planting. It is funny because I grew up with a 5-acre garden plot. We had corn, sugar cane, peanuts, potatoes, and other crops. We raised them for our very large extended family to eat, and we sold some to neighbors. We gave others to people who were less fortunate than us. As my grandparents both grew up in poverty, they believed that we had an obligation to give our excess food to families that needed it to survive.

As a child, I helped with those efforts, but I did not have anything to do with the planning. I was involved primarily in the harvesting, unless you count the many evenings I tagged along after my grandfather while he was watering the crops or the mornings when I would help my grandmother pick out veggies for later meals in the still-damp early morning hours.

Even with all of those memories as a child and those experiences with the garden, I did not pick up on much about the actual process of planning the garden. I know how to shell beans, shuck corn, and dig potatoes, but I have no clue when the seeds should go into the ground.

Now I find that I am curious about how farmers know. I am sure much of their knowledge comes from years of experiences and a closer relationship with nature than I, who have become an urban dweller in my adulthood, have.

I will wait, however, so that I am planting my garden at the right time. I will make sure that I am planting my garden at the right time so that I can help provide for my family this summer. While I do not imagine that my garden will provide much sustenance for my family this year, I do hope that it will provide enough to have a few meals picked from the ground behind our home.

Gardening is such a spiritual experience, and it is something that I want my children to experience during their childhood years. I want them to know about the glory and wonder of providing for themselves.

By Julia Mercer

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