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Where I plant a garden

by John on April 9th, 2013

Growing up, the routine was always the same. Mother’s Day, we’d go to church, head out to buy plants & vegetables, plant what was purchased, and then head out for dinner. After my parents’ divorce, the routine stayed much the same – I’d give my mom my services on Mother’s Day – weed her garden, plant what needed to be planted, and then head out for dinner (she, alas, would typically buy her own plants & seeds ahead of time). Through this tradition, I have become a decent gardener . . . but I typically lack the discipline to keep up with it after the original effort.

I hate that I lack that self-discipline. And since the wonderful Jessica reads this blog, I feel the need to turn things around. When we bought our house, there was a raised bed. Every year, I weed it and plant it . . . but, as you know, gardening requires upkeep. With the raised bed being quite a distance from the house, I need to fill watering cans and bring them down . . . and then summer hits and the yard requires so much up-keep that the vegetable garden goes by the wayside. We get some veggies, each year, but not nearly in the number that I’d like. So we’re changing things this year.

While the raised bed continues for plants that I’ve never had any success with, we rented a rototiller from a local rental agency, with the intention to rip up a good portion of my fenced-in back yard and create a garden. If it’s inside the fence, we limit the number of pests that can get to it (and those pests that do get to it must brave the scents of the dogs & a cat & a boy & a girl), and the hose reaches the area nicely.

We woke early on Saturday morning, got ready to work out, went to the rental supply place, got the rototiller, brought said tiller back to our place, went to the gym, worked out while the kids sat in the child-watch room, went back to the house, and started things up. The tiller motor started without incident – but it, simply, wouldn’t go when I tried to get it to eat up grass. So I took it back . . . and half an hour later, I was taking that same tiller back home, only this time it was actually tilling. Apparently, the last renter had broken a pin in it.

So I tilled.


This was far more of a workout than I was anticipating. Seriously, I was regretting the push-ups I had done that morning as I fought to keep the heavy machine in-place. But I got things done – where there was, previously, an area of poorly-maintained grass, now there was an area of loose dirt. Honestly, it may have been an improvement – and that was before anything was planted.

Then we loaded the tiller back into my truck & dropped it off. I paid for a full day’s rental, but I only actually used the tool for a little over an hour. Still, though, I’ll claim it was worth it — I can only imagine how sore I’d have been if I were doing the same with a spade and a rake.

After drop-off, we went to the nursery and we picked out plants: broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. We got corn, cantaloupe, watermelon, zucchini, and green bean seeds. We got some herbs. We got a bulb of garlic.

Originally, I had intended to keep things indoors, with sun, for a little while — we were planting in freshly-broken ground and we can’t guarantee that we’re past frost stage. But, well, the next couple of months will not allow us the time to spend setting things up as we did. And we should be in the clear from frost (or, we can cross our fingers, at least). So we planted.

Planting Tomatoes

  • CJ is very concerned that the carrots are not ready right now. The fact that we planted carrots but he didn’t get to eat one of those carrots was very distressing to him.
  • Toddlers sure are eager to help with most any task – though the subtle difference between pulling a plant out of a plastic container with soil & the roots intact and mutilating a plant is lost among that crowd.
  • Leila does not like knowing that she didn’t do something right. And will give an evil stare for quite some time after she’s been made aware that she did something wrong (like mutilate a cucumber plant).
  • Convincing toddlers to not walk on plants is far more futile than attempting to herd cats.
  • Do not throw clumps of grass over a fence around a toddler boy. CJ saw this and wanted to be the designated grass-chucker. But he commonly missed getting the grass over the fence. Or not in the face of one of his parents.
  • Leila will fret over the fact that the plants got dirty. Again and again and again.
  • It appears that CJ is allergic to grass – he had a miserable runny nose & teary eyes all day Sunday.

While we don’t have a whole lot of time these days, we’re hopeful to find 10-15 minutes every day to head out, get rid of any of the more-egregious of weeds, and water our new garden for the next several months (and, considering that we took up grass in order to put the vegetables in, I’m thinking that we’ll need that time just to keep the grass from re-encroaching).

My main goal with this, however, besides having lots yummy vegetables during the height of the summer, is to hopefully plant a want to do this within the kids. Last weekend, they really got into it. I’m crossing my fingers that we start hearing “when do we plant the garden?” every year, once we start seeing the snow melt.

From → Eating Right, Family

  1. We had a huge garden when I was growing up. But I haven’t managed to plant anything of my own. I really want that to change.

  2. Kim permalink

    This brought back some very happy memories of planting and harvesting a garden with my grandad.

    Such a good thing to start for CJ and Leila.

    You’ve inspired me to try a little vegetable garden.

  3. Oooh, I’m interested. I’ve recently decided I want to become a growing plants person. Except I’m obviously far too lazy to be such a person. So, in all likelihood, I’m about to become a waste a lot of money and a small amount of time on having dead plants on my porch kind of person.

  4. Worms were also very interesting to said toddlers.

  5. Wow. Ambitious. The most we do is a container garden with the necessary ingredients for salsa: tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro. Our dogs aren’t the best behaves about it. Heidi messes with dirt and loves to eat leaves off of squash plants.

    Are you worried about your dogs?

    • I am worried about the dogs – greatly. I believe, during an upcoming weekend, I’ll be putting in some kind of mini-fence. The larger of my dogs is 24 pounds, so it shouldn’t take much to keep them out. *fingers crossed*

  6. Ah, yes, I love the idea of planting a “want to do this” within them. That is my goal with camping this summer and beyond. We are in housing limbo at the moment, but I hope to get into a new place in time to plant a garden this year.

  7. We’re doing our second season of gardening here. Each plant has its own individual pot and now live on the roof of the garage because it is the place they can get full sun. And I have to water them with 2 liter soda bottles. So any time ou want to come and til my yard you are more than welcome….I’ll even go buy myself a watering can!

    • You know, not too long ago, I had to be in Boston for work, and I took Amtrak to get there, and the train just stopped, somewhere in the middle of Connecticut. I gave serious though to “I wonder if I could hit Brandi up for a place to stay” if it turns out the train is broken 🙂

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