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May 20, 2012: Gardening

Last night, Laurie Green, who is my photography mentor, came over for a visit. I gave her the lengthy tour, showing her our place, and providing anecdotal material. I like doing this because I then see our place and all our hard work from others’ eyes.

It’s gardening season, so this seemed to be at the forefront of the tour. I told her, as I tell most visitors, that “I’m not a gardener,” adding “this is one of Pete’s many areas of specialization.” She, like all the rest, then looked at me in disbelief, for it appears as though I ought to be one. My nails were (again) dirty, my face dirt-smudged, my shoes caked with mud, and my jeans worn at the knees.”

My lack of interest in this endeavor doesn’t make sense to visitors, and it doesn’t make sense to me. My mother and sister are avid gardeners, and their interest borders on sheer obsessiveness. They live in Portland, Oregon. My sister’s yard is full of differing kinds of annuals and perennials (I don’t know which is which, but it’s safe to say that this is what she has, because these terms encompass most flowers in the plant kingdom.) My mother doesn’t have much of a yard; she lives in a small townhouse kind of apartment complex. But she grows things – I mean, she’s gotten tomato plants to grow in tree stumps. How cool is that? As for my father – he has several well-tended to geranium plants on his porch.

And my friends are gardeners. For example, Anne Corinne Kell of Sun Circle Farm has a 35-family CSA. I was over at her place recently and took in the rows and rows of seedlings almost ready to be planted. She was watering – she seemed really happy. And her plants seemed

really happy. Our plants seem happy when Pete walks amongst them. Me? I get the look. Sunflowers see me coming and turn their heads the other way.

I recently acknowledged to myself that I did not inherit the gene. This is very much to my dismay because I really want to love gardening. I love flowers. I love eating fresh vegetables. I love talking the garden talk and doing the garden walk.

As of this year we have three good sized gardens, and a small greenhouse. In addition, we have a well-maintained raspberry patch. The lower garden consists of six raised beds, the middle garden consists of five long rows, and the upper garden contains and cold frame and five raised rock beds. Each year, “we” rotate the crops, this after examining the previous year’s plan.

Our gardening project is now eight years into the making. I’ve assisted Pete in preparing the garden sites. I do enjoy the more tangential aspects of gardening –prep work, harvest, and cleanup. Prepping, of course, includes compost production. I have turned tons of it by hand, and lugged it to the various sites. In past years, I also hauled water from the spillway (this is at the base of the horse pen) to the lower garden.

I do not like the minutia of gardening, which is planting seeds and weeding. Maybe this is because it’s hard for me to stay still for any length of time Poking holes in the soil, dropping the seeds in place, covering them up – I’m good at most for an hour a day of this. Weeding is harder still. All I can say is yuugh.

Two years ago my sister and mother came here for a visit. This was in August. Pete and I had gotten lax about weeding – the garden was a jungle. No matter, the pair bounced down into the middle garden, got down on their hands and knees, and began yanking weeds out right and left. They were so fast and efficient that I wondered if we were related. I cheered them both on by saying that they were doing an incredible job, and then I dumped the weeds in the compost heap.

Given my druthers, I’d much rather clean a goat pen, rake out a chicken coop, or muck out a horse stall. Tending to animals is my forte.

No, planting and weeding is not up there on my list of favorite outside activities. But this year, I AM going to give Pete a hand. Momentarily, I am going to go out and assist him in planting something or other. (He said what this was, but I now do not recall.) I also told him that I’ll weed and water in the evenings. And I will. If we can stay ahead of it, this task will seem less onerous to me.

And additionally, I will pitch in with considerable good cheer, having of course by now accepted the fact that I did not inherit what is probably the most cool gene of all, that is the one that has the alleles for gardening.

Next: 164. 05/21/12: Jokla