Thursday, August 28, 2014

Returning to the Garden - Confessions of a lapsed gardener

I stepped away from being a dedicated gardener several years ago for many reasons and even gave away all my tools. Last year I finally found moved into a small place, "La Pensione" I call it, with a garden-able area and plenty of room for container gardening. I became a dirt digger once again, and the sun began to shine.

I became a "locavore," gathering everything I needed within a 10-mile radius. All the necessary tools were found at places like yard sales and the local Habitat for Humanity Restore , a place of miraculous finds. At these places I found stakes and other wood for supports, netting, big 5.5 and 7.5 gal. nursery pots, a shovel, hoe, spade, and even found a garden rake with a 6 foot handle! I got some seeds at a local seed swap, starts from the local food co-op and organic grocers, growers' markets and friends. Organic compost, manure and other amendments came from two local Grange Co-ops, where I also scrounged in their giveaway plant pot bin and came away with some large and sturdy nursery pots.

I've totally surrendered myself to creating and caring for a small garden. I've had big and small gardens before, "therapy" gardens for post-divorce times, gardens way up in the woods that had magnificent yields. But it had been way too long since I had fallen on the ground and tasted the Giver of Life. Now, though, I'm once again a wholesome human bean with tired muscles and short, dirty fingernails.

Gardening means not only food, but also flowers, shrubs, trees, fruit, composting, worm farming, bees, bugs, birds, weather, watering, peace of mind, and the best taproot to the center of all life. It has gotten me through low and high times, and motivates and realigns my spirit. Digging in a garden or caressing plants is my meditation, and frankly much easier for me to do than sitting still, trying to quiet the thought freeway in my head. Gardening slows my tempo down.

I'm under Mother Nature's spell as I watch in real time the time lapse of a deep red gladiolus unfolding, chard starts taking off, or an acorn squash plant growing at a phenomenal rate.

See the littlest plant in this pic below, the tiny little acorn squash on the left just above the railroad tie?

This is in mid-June...

Here she is in mid-July, the adventurous one...the other biggies are volunteer pumpkins, with Jurassic Park leaves.
And here she is at her peak, with some nice size squash hidden among the leaves:

She got two feet from the gate before I figured out a climbing apparatus for her.

I love the ecstasy of eating a salad coaxed from the ground with my own hands,

or a pot of freshly picked green beans, steamed and covered with a tablespoon of butter and nutritional yeast.....ecstasy....

And now the big tomatoes are coming on fast...Dinner is just a quartered, garden-ripe tomatoe drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and lemon pepper.

How can you top that?

Pulling weeds is the best counseling one can get for free. I can spend half a day doing nothing but pulling weeds. When I'm done and pull off my gloves and put away the tools, I feel emotionally and mentally cured for at least another week...depending on what needs to be weeded out in my life.

I fuss over my garden, talk to it and tenderize it as much as I can. Sometimes I'm out in the middle of the night chasing earwigs, removing slugs, or just checking to see if I can catch plants in the act of growing.

On nice mornings and sweet dusky eves, I'll sit on the bench - a yard sale rickety freebie that I reinforced with L-braces - and just look at all the growing things, pondering on the miracle of Mother Nature, totally in wonderment, grateful, and in love with everything.

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