Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Some People Weren't Meant to Be Gardeners ; Three Gardeners Reflect on the Joys - and Tribulations - of Digging in the Dirt

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Some People Weren't Meant to Be Gardeners ; Three Gardeners Reflect on the Joys - and Tribulations - of Digging in the Dirt

Article excerpt

When I lived in the city I had an excuse for not joining the gardening frenzy - no space. So I did the next best thing and purchased my produce from farmers' markets.

My friends who had land were already raring to go by April. Getting seed catalogs in September made their eyes gleam.

They ate food that they had grown themselves, and I was envious, for all I had ever grown was a field of flourishing dandelions. So I was determined to make that change once we headed for the country.

I always wanted to have a big garden. My mother's garden had always been a square acre of organized efficiency. The vegetables lay in neat, straight rows, alphabetically arranged. Even the pumpkins kept their vines in line. The lettuce was slugless, and the tomatoes plump and juicy. How could I not want that?

Soon after we first moved in, I came up with the idea of planting corn around the sundeck. In my fantasies, we would be out barbecuing with the relatives and picking plump corn from my crop, roasting it to perfection.

I put the seeds in the ground, covered them, and watered them once or twice. Nature should take care of them, I reasoned. No one told me about soil conditioning, fertilizing, or how seeds don't normally grow in cedar chips.

I was still determined to be self- sufficient. One morning with shovel and hoe and puppy in tow, I decided I would "clear the land" near the chicken coop and surprise my husband with my efforts. It was going to be a gorgeous garden, like one I had seen in a magazine. A Celtic knot with flowers, herbs, and vegetables, and a pond in the middle. What could be so hard about that?

After four hours of digging, in what is now called "the rockery," I had cleared a patch about the size of two sheets of paper.

I learned later from one of the neighbors that the soil in this neck of the woods was no good. He saidthat I would have to bring in topsoil and build up the garden; using raised beds was ideal. Manure had to be worked in at certain times of the year, creating an aroma that only a gardener could love.

Also working against my gardening efforts was the wide variety of wildlife. We had raccoons, cougars, and deer. …

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