Sunday, April 27, 2014

Time to Plant the Garden

The past two weeks the weather's finally warmed up in a fairly steady way and so my husband, daughter and I have been working on our garden. We're pretty excited about this because for the past two summers we couldn't have much in the way of a garden. We tried, but a north facing apartment patio on a shaded ground floor doesn't offer much hope for plants. By the time we moved into our house and got settled last summer it was too late in the season. So this year it's exciting to try again, in this new house with its east and west exposures.

Even with better sun, I'm not sure how this will go. My husband and I have tried this in the past, and while we usually get lovely green plants we don't get many fruits or vegetables. The best we ever did was in Texas when we set up an automatic irrigation system on a timer. Everything grew that year, although we ended up with lots of weeding to do and there we had some determined critter that we never could catch who took big bites out of the ripe tomatoes.

We've done better with flowers. Planting bulbs is an act of faith each fall as we place lifeless looking tubers in the cold ground in hopes of an enchanting reward in the spring. This spring the crocuses reassured us in March that warm weather truly was coming, eventually, and then the tulips and hyacinths and daffodils celebrated April. Now we've set out some geraniums and marigolds as cheerful annuals and we're waiting to see if the irises bloom or if we buried them too deeply. This fall we'll add some bulbs for summer blooming flowers to the mix in our front yard. We planted a rosebush, too, and if it does well there's a space for another one next year. Our flowers add color and brightness to our front yard, something pretty to see as we come and go each day.

We dream of an actual harvest though. I love ripe, homegrown tomatoes, which epitomize the taste of summer. My husband loves fresh herbs. I've planted some lavender and with some luck knitted sachets with sprigs of home grown, dried herbs inside will make holiday gifts this year. Our deck has good strong warm sunshine all afternoon so we've planted tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, lettuce and peppers in containers this year, all started from seeds that we nurtured inside during the winter. If we did things right then we can have a completely home grown salad. We also planted some strawberries in a vertical planter, which we've done semi-successfully before. We're are also trying to grow a blueberry bush for our daughter after she saw it in the store, recognized the picture and pleaded for it. A berry bush is a first for us, making it interesting even if it doesn't produce fruit.

It's fun, at least, even if it doesn't work well. Fortunately for us, our meals don't depend on what we can grow, although I suppose if they did we'd try harder and do more research. As it is gardening remains relaxing and stress free. Each year we learn a little about what didn't work and try something new. We play as a family with water and dirt, sunshine and seeds, and marvel each year at how, with a little care and attention, life just develops from these raw materials.