I have never been big on yard work. Growing up, I can recall spending entire weekends devoted to raking cut grass, bagging up scratchy clippings from bushes, painting the back deck, etc. It was hot, sweaty, painful work, all of it, and I never enjoyed it.
In spite of all the yard work I did growing up, I never did learn how to do much more than rake and bag stuff and haul it to the curb. Mom just told me what to do, but never explained why we did certain chores at certain times (like she also told me what to do in the kitchen, but never taught me how to cook). So even though I’m forty years old, I’ve got this major disconnect about how to handle my lawn and garden. When do you actually plant stuff? When do you weed? How often do you water the lawn? And fertilizer! What do I do with that crap (pun intended)?
I’ve tried my hand at gardening. I’ve got two plots in the back yard, one of various perennial greens, and the other containing one giant rosemary bush and a lot of oregano. But there’s no grace to either garden really. I just sort of slapped them together with no idea of what would grow and what wouldn’t, what would look nice, and what would look like a tangle of weeds.
As for the rest of the yard? I’ve pretty much left that to Michael all these years. He handles the mowing, the watering, the edging, the deck and porch repairs, etc. In fact, he handles so much of it, I almost never have to go outside.
But that’s about to change. I need to get the kids outside more, and I need to get myself outside more. The fact is, I’m bored with going to the playground and chasing after the kids. It’s not that I don’t love my kids, but I really don’t fit into the jungle gyms they’ve got so all I can do is what most moms do at the playground – sit on my but and make sure my kids don’t fall and break their necks. It’s boring! If I’m going to be outside, I at least want to be doing something. And I want to be moving, because moving equals exercise, right?
So this is the plan. Last week, the Monday after we got back from Arkansas, I pulled out a bunch of peat pots and some soil, and the girls and I planted some seeds. Again, I have no idea what I’m doing. I let Pixie pick out most of the seeds. She selected corn, beans, tomatoes, and sunflowers. I did pick a few herbs out. I am most familiar with herb gardening, especially in small containers on my deck, so I think I can do okay there. But the plan is for the girls and I to try our hand at gardening together. Maybe we’ll all learn something. Maybe my children won’t grow up as gardening ignorant as I did. And maybe we’ll all have an enjoyable summer outside this year.
We’ve all got gardening tools. Mine is a mismatched collection accumulated from previous attempts at gardening; the girls collection as pretty much all plastic beach toys. But I figure we’ve got the basics. I’ve also got a couple of gardening books, including one called Trowel and Error: Over 700 Tips, Remedies and Shortcuts for the Gardener. I’ve flipped through it and am finally starting to see how some gardening concepts I’ve heard about fit together. Plus, it’s just a fun little book with all sorts of weird ideas that might be fun to try.
I can’t say I’ll do any better job gardening this year than I have in previous years. I am notorious for killing a lot of plants. But so far, two-thirds of the seeds we planted over a week ago have sprouted up, and I’ve managed to weed and mulch parts of the front yard. The fact that I know what mulch is and I know where to put it shows a huge improvement in my gardening skills already. Plus I spent three hours outside hacking up the lawn with a pick ax to get all this done, so you know I burned some calories. (Yes, I used a pick ax to weed and mulch my front yard. It was necessary. Have you seen the weeds in my yard?)
I am a little intimidated by my kids’ expectations. They keep jumping around, shouting “We’re growing a farm! A real live farm!” So there’s a little pressure on me to make sure something survives my black thumb. But at the very least, I’m sure we’ll all get plenty of fresh air and sunshine this spring and summer, and yours truly intends to drop a few pounds by
digging around in the dirt.
Or kill a lot of plants while trying.