How my garden grows

How my garden grows

7 27 17

By Jan Dona

The Write Team

I’m a big believer in what I call dirt therapy. There’s a certain amount of fulfillment I get from putting on some ugly clothes (which is most days, by the way), heading out into my yard and planting something.

I’ve always enjoyed yard work, gardening in particular. I like taking a patch of unbroken earth, pulling up the sod and making it suitable for planting. I’m not ashamed to admit that, often, when I’ve worked a patch of ground to my satisfaction, I’ve been known to stand there as stare at it as if it were a piece of art. This is before it’s even been planted.

Since I moved in 2012, my gardening has been left mostly to pots. I’d grow a lot of herbs and a lot of flowers, but I was hesitant to dig into the back yard. You see, when the property was purchased, the lot wasn’t well graded and had lots of ruts and general unevenness. My father spent a lot of time hauling in dirt and regrading that yard and I was loath to jeopardize all the good work he did by digging into it without a workable plan.

Finally, this year, I decided to expand my repertoire and attempt a raised vegetable garden. I carefully researched the design and size I wanted, along with what I would plant. I did all the math and calculated how many cubic feet of dirt I would need to fill it. I purchased all the materials over the winter and when spring came I put together a raised bed in a convenient U-shaped design. What I lacked was the knowledge of just how difficult it is to take a load of dirt that has sat out in the sun and rain for a couple of weeks and turn it into workable soil.

It took several bales of peat moss, some top soil and expert tilling from Tom Hubert, but I finally got the dirt worked down enough to plant — about six weeks after everyone else had finished their garden

The upside to being so late is that bedding plants were on sale. I bought everything for half off, which was after July 4 for all you penny pinchers out there. I bought two of four different varieties of tomatoes, a couple pepper plants, four zucchini plants, and a bunch of herbs. I started some lettuce indoors from seed and, hopefully, I’ve staggered them enough that I’ll have fresh lettuce well into fall. In fact, I should have everything producing well into fall. We have a long growing season, right?

I’m sure by the standards of many, my garden is extremely small, but it’s a start. Since it’s raised and fairly easy to access, I’m able to keep it clear of weeds, and I hope the height deters the rabbits at least a little, although it’s done nothing to dissuade my cat, who likes to nap under the zucchini leaves.

It’s odd. I’m a horrible housekeeper. I breed dust bunnies under the bed and can generally find a cobweb whenever I’m motivated to look for one. While my yard is far from perfect, I can busy myself for hours with mowing and pulling weeds. I enjoy mowing and have been mowing a big abandoned property on the other end of my block for the last four years.

After a good long day of yard work, I’ll get in my car and drive by to see how it looks from the road — from both directions.

My yard isn’t anything fancy, and most people do a better job of landscaping than I do. I just know it feels good to get sweaty and dirty. I like the feel of my hands in dirt and don’t even mind when dirt gets caked under my nails. The best showers in the world are those taken after a long, dirty day of hard work, which is often followed by my best sleep.

I don’t know or even care if others share this perspective. I just know when I’ve had a long and stressful day or week, the best medicine for me is a dirty day in the yard.