Sunday, May 16, 2010

Garden Wars Episode I... Green Thumb vs. Couch Potato

Last year I decided to try gardening. I had tinkered with a few spices in pots and flower beds the year before, but without much success because they didn't have any afternoon sun. Last year I thought, "What the heck?" So I brought home the sod cutter and a roto-tiller from work, and Matt and I took up a section of lawn that got lots of afternoon sun, and we went to work. I brought home bags of steer manure and having already returned the tiller to the store, I mixed it in with a shovel and a rake.

Having completed that, I was ready to start planting. I was ambitious... I planted garlic, cucumbers, broccoli, delicata squash, snap peas, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, basil, cilantro, rosemary, and lavendar (not to eat, just 'cause I like it.) I started everything from starts, I didn't think I was ready for the responsibility of seeds. I found that I really enjoyed working in my garden, but it was SO hot last summer that most of my peas died, and I didn't like pulling weeds in that heat. And I wasn't super stellar at that whole watering thing.

I was amazed at my level of gardening success given my usual propensity for murdering helpless plants. I grew well over 40 pounds of tomatoes last summer and made over a dozen quarts of salsa. Pretty good for someone who doesn't even like tomatoes...

I harvested a number of delicata squash from my plants, much to my delight. I made cream of broccoli soup with fresh broccoli from MY garden... it was a very proud moment for me.

I was surprised to discover that I was fairly good at this gardening thing, and felt very rewarded by it.

Then fall came. I harvested the rest of my squash, and then never looked back at my garden. And then came the attack of the weeds. They were stealthy, they crept in a few at a time, and even though I knew they were there, I didn't realize how strong their presence had become.

My strawberry plants were (I thought) the only plants that survived the winter. I thought, "I'll go pull the weeds around them, and then get ready to start over." That was 2 months ago, when it wasn't such a jungle out there. I went out today ready to do battle. I had my gloves, and my scuffle hoe (also known as a Dutch Hoe, which leads to MANY MANY jokes, but I digress...) and I thought, "Ok, I'll spend an hour or so pulling these weeds."

Then I made it across the lawn to the wild weed patch where my garden used to be. My prized garden, the object of my affection last summer, was now completely grown over with grass, and weeds and my strawberry plants mixed in for good measure. I started yanking out handfuls of grass and weeds and chucking them into the wheelbarrow. After 5-10 minutes of this I had cleared approximately a 1' x 2' area. I was also feeling shaky and all-around yucky. So I came back inside to lie down for a few minutes. Then after some cheerios and a nice chat with the lady from the Census bureau I decided to go back out there and try again. This time I was armed with ear plugs and my weed-eater. I decided to knock down most of the tall grass and weeds and leave the area where most of my strawberries are alone. I loaded up the wheelbarrow again with cut grass and weeds. I raked, and pulled handfuls of weeds and grass, and started thinking, "Maybe my strawberry plants just aren't worth it..."

So, it's now been almost a week since I started this post, and I haven't been back out to the garden, but as I was writing this last weekend, I was starting to remember how much I loved the results of my garden last year and that maybe, just maybe, the strawberry plants were worth the effort. I loved going out and clipping some fresh basil when I needed it, or having my all day salsa making fest with Robbie using 25 pounds of tomatoes that I grew all by myself. And as I thought more and more about it, I decided that I did want to reclaim my garden and grow more stuff this year.

It remains to be seen if I'm going to get out there and continue the war against my weeds tomorrow afternoon, but I have the best of intentions. My best intentions never seem to be a match for my couch potato tendency though...

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