I had even gotten kind of fancy and started calling it a “Potager”, which is what the french call their kitchen garden. That was in the heady first days! I drew up lofty plans, sketched out ideas and went to work. I added beds, moved a fence, got a greenhouse, tilled soil, laid paths and spread mulch.
(Am I the only person under the age of 68 who starts humming that old country song…”Ya work your fingers to the bone, and whaddya get? Bony Fingers! Bony fingers!“) ?
I put a lot of chicken manure and compost into the raised beds and now that rich black soil grows a more-than-decent harvest. So I am wrong for whining even this little bit, because as any gardener knows, a harvest of tasty food is the whole point. But I am keeping it real on this blog. I will openly confess that I am fussy, unsatisfied, and forever discontent with the state of my gardens. The kitchen garden, especially. It needs new paths, a prettier fence, more blueberries, less chives. The irrigation needs re-done, the back beds aren’t level, the compost bin widened. I could go on, but it would be too depressing for me and too boring for you, so I will stop there.
I read a lot of gardening books. I talk with other gardening friends and they echo the refrain
“Next year I’m going to…”
“Oh and I am pulling out all of this…”
“I don’t know what to do with …”
“Soon I want to change this area…”
We all sound the same but that brings me no comfort. It’s a malady I would like to outgrow and since my gardening mentors haven’t, what hope is there for me?
This is why, most of the time when I am looking at my garden, I can’t help but let out an exasperated sigh. So much to do on this little acre. I dream of what I could accomplish with four strong men in overalls, six thousand dollars, and one long month. But it’s one back to bend (mine) and a slim wallet to spend (his). Priorities have to be well shuffled and each year I try to pick one area to focus on improving and then just try to keep on top of the maintenance of the rest. It feels like I am falling further behind. I drop expectations lower, yet struggle with the desire to have more accomplished with limited time and resources. To squeeze school and housework and friends into my precious gardening time…This is when I have to take a deep breath and remember: I prayed for this property. I specifically asked God and He specifically answered and will remind myself of the continuous opportunity I have here.
How wonderful that I will still have corners to plant in twenty years, and horticultural challenges at 60 years old, right!? On a sunshiny day, with dirt in my hands and hope in my heart-yes. that is exactly how I feel. I look around this property and can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be.
But every now and then, when I am driving past a postage-stamp sized yard in town? I look at it with a little longing. I never enjoyed having neighbors close enough to pass toilet paper through the bathroom window to. And I certainly don’t enjoy having to hear the domestic squabbles and vacuum whirring of any home but my own. But that little yard over there? The one with 15 feet of green lawn and a sad little rhododendron in the corner? Hmmm. Boy, could I fix up THAT yard. In one Spring, with a hundred bucks and a sharp spade, it would be transformed into a miniature Eden. And most importantly, I could wipe my hands across my jeans, smile wide with satisfaction, and say “Done.”
But then I’d get itchy to plant something new, and you know it…we’d have to move to somewhere bigger. I would need a challenge, room to spread out and make mistakes and learn this creative art a little better. I know God put me in the right spot.
” The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!”
Psalm 16:6 (New Living Translation)