Monday, September 7, 2009

The Garden

As spring sprung this year, I seemed more in tune with the seasons than usual, watching every crocus bloom and paying particular attention to the daffodils and tulips. And I had a stronger urge than ever to put stuff in the ground. I was hoping this year would be the year I purchased a house with a yard and a garden and I proceeded accordingly. I subjected various innocent veggies to plantings in little pots on the patio at my tiny little guest house, affectionately called "The Mini." I planted in the hopes that every plant would have a more permanent home at some point later in the spring. I planted a pumpkin and cucumber in a ridiculously small pot--I was very optimistic!

The Boyfriend helped me build a "square-foot garden" (it was actually four square feet) where I planted tomatoes and peppers. Because I couldn't say no to a nine pack of peppers, I filled up other planter boxes with the rest of the jalapenos with the hopeful anticipation that spring seems to fill us with and fall seems to mock us for. As it turns out, even five or six jalapeno plants is a ridiculous idea for a household of two. But more about that later.

So all my plants were hanging in there on the patio of The Mini when we left for our mid-June vacation to Seattle, the Oregon Coast, and Portland. Sitting on the balcony of our hotel room in Cannon Beach and looking out over the ocean, I called my dad to check in. We were closing on a house on Monday. It was Wednesday. I hadn't started packing. Shoot, I hadn't even given my 30-day notice to the landlord. Yikes!

When we got home, the chaos ensued. Packing up two households, deciding what to do with The Boyfriend's townhouse, switching utilities, getting a fence, and all the other not-so-fun stuff that goes along with homeownership. However, this was my very first home and even without the promise of an $8,000 check from Uncle Sam, I was ridiculously excited. Especially for the yard. My poor little plants were finally going to have a home. They had held on into July (we moved in on July 4th) so I felt like I had to move fast.

I couldn't wait for my garden. The Boyfriend got to work quickly on our raised beds. Two beautiful two-by-eight-by-one foot beds. Then they sat in the garage while I tried to decide where to put them. Where I wanted them and where mother nature would shine her light on them were two very different places. But because mother nature wins every single time--a fact I'm time and time again reminded that society hasn't comprehended yet--I realized we were going to have to pull out the pine tree in our back yard. It wasn't such a bad decision to come to because we wanted to get rid of it anyway.

So one day after work, I went at it. I dug and dug, constantly thwarted by the rocky fill that is responsible for making our yard (almost) level. I had made some progress around the base when The Boyfriend came home and just yanked it out, Paul Bunyan style. I contend he couldn't have done so without my digging. He, not surprisingly, disagrees. In any case, let's say we worked together and the tree was out. We went to the store for burlap and twine in the hopes that someone would give our tree a new home. I'm no tree killer, after all. Sure enough someone came the next day and hauled it away to live happily ever after.

After the tree was gone, I set to digging out an area for the raised beds. In this endeavor, I was quite naive. How many times had I sat on a lawn as a child, idly picking away at the grass or watched my dogs scratch at the yard, proudly proclaiming their pooping success, as the grass flew in all directions. I thought this feeble, weak, and flimsy plant would be quite easy to remove. As it turns out, I was wrong. I suppose it was easy enough, but it was heavy. And the rocks continued to play antagonist in this story of me versus the yard. When I finally removed an area of sod big enough for the raised beds and a border around them, I was quite pleased with myself (and tired). I showed it to The Boyfriend; his response: "Now you're going to level it?" Um, yeah, of course! Ugh, more battles with the rocks. Finally it was level enough (which I think was the criteria for the yard as a whole!), and at last I got to bask in my victory. We set the beds in, filled them up with 14 two-cubic-yard bags of soil, and filled in around them with bark.

It has been so fun to watch the garden grow. It must be one of the simplest, most humbling, and gratifying activities a person can do. The back bed had a Sweet 100, a Big Boy (or something like that), a yellow pear (from an heirloom seed), and a Siletz (also heirloom seed) tomato. Overkill, yes, but lots of fun regardless. The back bed was also home to one red pepper, one green pepper from The Boyfriend's seeds, and four jalapenos (major overkill). The front bed had our pumpkin, another green pepper from seed, and a cucumber. My favorite has undoubtedly been the pumpkin, but more about that at a later date.

A garden, I'm told, is always a work in progress. Next year it will always be better. But I'm thrilled with our first attempt. Here is what the garden looked like the first week of September.

And that has been my first two months as a first-time yard owner!

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