How does your garden grow? by Deb Jennifer

When we had our place in the woods, we had an amazing garden.  We took the ugliest part of our land – a flat area covered in logging slash, the clay lifeless and hopelessly compacted by heavy machinery, and turned it into paradise.  We planted cover crops, built raised beds full of rich compost.  We grew vegetables mostly: tomatoes, salad greens, sweet and hot peppers, garlic, basil, beans, peas, even baby watermelons.  There were sunflowers and nasturtium here and there.  Trellises we made from saplings.  Hops (for our homebrewed beer) and a large bed of asparagus in the north corner.  I even dug a little frog pond at the edge of the garden, which served as both a happy home for frogs and a watering hole for moose.

These days, things are different.  It’s not that we don’t have the space for a garden, it’s just that there’s no time.  One of the things I loved about this house when we first moved here was the south facing terraced hillside, the garden beds full of perennials.  I didn’t know a thing about flowers, but I was going to learn.  I was going to have the most magnificent garden in the neighborhood.  And we’d convert a couple of beds to veggies, too.  But that hasn’t happened.  This year, we managed to plant sugar snap peas, then promptly abandoned them.  They’re untrellissed, flopped over, drowning in weeds.  I didn’t start any tomatoes.  I didn’t buy any plants to stick in late.  I just let it go.

I started with the best intentions.  I did plant the peas.  I got a place ready for the vegetable garden.  I worked buckets of compost into the soil.  Then I got ambitious and cleaned out the herb garden, discovering a path of stepping stones wound through it. But I let that go too.  Now, here it is, mid June, and the path is covered.  I can’t tell the herbs from the weeds.  Next the floppy, tangled mess of peas, lumpy soil is being ravaged by dandelions, sorrel and witchgrass.  I’m lucky if I can get the grass mowed.  Does it make me sad?   Yeah, a little.  But the time I would have spent tending to vegetables is spent tending to my daughter and my writing and when I get the hankering for a homegrown tomato, I head for the farmers market.  I look at my neglected and abandoned garden and tell myself all hope isn’t lost.  There’s always next year. 

What do you wish you had time for?

9 Replies to “How does your garden grow? by Deb Jennifer”

  1. Mmmm peas. I just plain wish that I had a garden! Unfortunately, it’s either move outside of Boston or just live vicariously through the people who do manage to have gardens. It’s probably for the best. I too would not likely have the time!

    I wish I had more time to read (although after the Grub Street reading, I sucked down your book in about 3 hours last week it was so good!). I have a pile of books begging for me to devour.

  2. You’re my kind of gardener. This year, we’re not even trying to fool ourselves. As much as we adore choosing plants and spending an entire weekend digging in the dirt, we’re planting and trimming nothing. We have weeds up to our knees and there are baby maples sprouting between the bricks in our pathway. I actually don’t mind how shaggy the property looks, if only I had a weed fairy…

    On the upside, I’m making plenty of time for reading for the first time in a while, your wonderful book included!

  3. I’d like more time to play outside and tackle the to-be-read stack(s) that grow by leaps and bounds. However, my full-time job pays for the apartment to hold the books and the gear to get in the woods. It’s a trade-off. 🙂

  4. I would say I wish I had more time to garden, do some home improvements around here, work out, read, write and that would all be true, but what I really wish I had more time for is to do nothing. I wish I had more time to sit in an Adirondack chair under my apple tree and watch the squirrels and enjoy the day. To have the time to not constantly think about all the things I never have time for — that would be my wish.

  5. I like the idea of gardening, but the truth is the reality is less fun than I imagined. I wish I had more time for all the fun stuff, writing, chatting with friends over a bottle of wine and stinky cheese, sitting on the beach and letting the sound of the waves lull me into a nap. All of it.

  6. Crystal, when I was an apartment dweller, I grew tomatoes and hot peppers in pots. I’m atually thinking about going out and getting a big tomato plant in a pot to make myself feel better now.

    Tish, I’m glad I’m not the only one with weeds up to my knees and trees growing in places they shouldn’t be!

    Kate, I want more time to read, too.

    Lisa, I can’t remember the last time I did nothing. It sounds heavenly. Especially, if I was on the beach, like you mentioned, Eileen!

  7. The few plants I managed to grow at the cottage were chewed to the ground by rabbits and deer. Now I just admire the wildflowers and do what you do – buy my veggies at the farmer’s market and spend more time reading and swimming. I tell myself I’m supporting the local economy that way, too!

  8. Jennifer, I know exactly what you mean. We had a wonderful garden at our last house and I had great plans for the front and back of our new one. Sadly, I bought plants two weeks ago and half of them are still sitting in their pots in the front yard. I’ve watered them, but I can’t seem to get them planted. The ones I have managed to plant are enjoying varying degrees of health and I’ve no time to coddle them. I’m calling it a Darwinian garden.


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