Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Thumbs are Getting Greener

Flowers from my perennial garden

I grew up in a home where a garden was always growing (so long as the season permitted). My mom has an amazing green thumb when it comes to growing plants, flowers and vegetables. I was never much of a gardener. While she loved to spend her summer days outside, I spent most of my time inside. As soon as I was old enough, I became the baker, the cook and the housekeeper during the summer months. This freed-up my mom's time for the outdoors and we both liked this arrangement. I'm not a huge fan of the sun so staying inside where it was cooler during the summer suited me just fine.

My first attempt at growing plants in my apartment was a complete failure. Likewise, when Wayne and I bought our first house, my plants didn't thrive. They died. We attempted a vegetable garden at our former residence, but the soil was so rocky that nothing grew. My flowerbeds did okay. And the plants I had in planters on my deck did great as far as I was concerned; until I'd see my mom's and my sister's potted plants. Then I felt like I was failing again. I resigned myself to the fact that I was not, nor would I ever be, gifted with a green thumb.

Last fall when we were starting the process of buying the acreage we now call home, one of the first things my husband did was check out the garden area. It was big. It still is. I was checking out the flowerbeds and made an attempt to envision what springtime and summer would look like in our yard. Unfortunately, it was mid-September, and the growing season was over. Plus, it was obvious that the flowerbeds hadn't been given any attention that summer and they were, to put it mildly, a mess.

So, this spring when things started popping out of the ground, it was quite an adventure. Not being overly knowledgeable about the plant world, I brought in the expertise of my mom to identify the perennials. We decided that this year we would allow everything to grow that had been previously planted and just see how it looked. I didn't want to plant new perennials without knowing what was going to appear as the weather became warmer. So far, so good. Aside from the weeds, I'm quite pleased with my existing flowerbeds with a few minor exceptions. While I'm no expert on plants and flowers, I do like them. And I like lots of them. So, I guess you could say that apart from one of my existing flowerbeds, I will be adding more plants in future years.

But my biggest reason for addressing this issue of gardening concerns my vegetable garden. Honestly, I had no hope for my garden. Due to mine and Wayne's lack of experience and previous experience of nothing growing in our last gardening attempt, I had little faith in myself to actually be the recipient of a bountiful harvest. But I've been proven wrong. I'm overwhelmed with how well everything is growing. If all goes well, we will have an abundance of produce! God is blessing us way beyond my expectations.

What I find most baffling about our garden is the fact that, despite the weeds, our supposedly poor soil quality and lack of my natural gardening abilities, our plants are growing. And they're big. We planted our garden late by most standards, but by the beginning of August, most of our vegetables will be ready to eat. Some are already being eaten. We've been enjoying our leaf lettuce for sandwiches and I just made my very first Caesar salad with my very own Romaine lettuce!

Our garden is big. I said that already. But it really is. My husband was overly zealous when deciding on seed quantities, and so we've got over 200 potato plants, 4 rows of corn, 4 rows of peas, 2 rows of carrots, 1 row of cucumbers, 2 rows of lettuce, 6 celery plants, 16 tomato plants, 12 pepper plants (assorted varieties), 100 onions, 15 garlic plants, 5 watermelon plants, 3 pumpkin plants, 1 rhubarb plant, plus dill, cilantro and parsley. Not to mention we also have 4 apple tress and 6 Saskatoon berry bushes. Unfortunately, I missed the harvest of the berries due to my busy week last week. But the apple harvest will not be missed so long as I have anything to do with it.

My goal for this year was to produce enough vegetables to make two things: salsa and relish. If the vegetables yield like I think they will, I will be able to make both the salsa and relish completely from my very own vegetables! Do you know how thrilled I am about this? SO thrilled! I can hardly wait. Every time I go to check on my garden, I get so excited when I notice that yet another pepper has formed, or another tomato. I. Am. So. Excited!

Seven weeks ago when Wayne and I were in the middle of planting our garden, my best friend called me. She asked what I was doing. I told her: "We're planting our garden." She was in shock. She informed me that I didn't strike her as a gardener. While I admit that it has never been my forte in the past, I proceeded to inform her that gardener or not, I was doing this out of necessity. My motivation for planting a garden was to save money at the grocery store come late summer/early fall. Not to mention homegrown vegetables are healthier than store-bought. She applauded our intentions, but I think in the back of her mind she wasn't overly hopeful that us greenhorns would do very well. You see, she grew up on a farm and her family had a garden even bigger than ours. And she actually helped her mom in the garden, whereas I didn't.

So, given my friend's skepticism, I have been secretly wanting to prove her wrong. And I think I am. Of course, it's too early to tell for sure. But things are coming along well. Really well. And I do believe my thumbs are getting greener by the day. And I'm actually enjoying my new-found passion. Did I say passion? Well, maybe it's not a passion yet. But I now understand a little bit more of my mom's obsession (can I say that?) with her garden.

Here are pictures of my vegetable garden:


stacey said...

i must admit that i am actually jealous. although i am not sure how i could add one more responsibility to my plate, i would love to garden. i am working on our eating habits and this "hobby" would fit perfect. can i garden at midnight :)

p.s. thank you so much for inviting me to your other blog. i am honored and have so many questions! first i need sleep!

Kristy said...

Your garden is AMAZING!!
With all the extra bounty your going to have, you can bless others with all your produce! How cool is that?!?
This post touched my heart, as gardening is HUGE on my list of 'loves' !!
( I'm in the process of catching up on all your posts, but had to hit this one first !)