Call it my second breakout season.
After two years of playing in the ground, I am ready to declare myself a serious market gardener. It is a new hobby for life.
Why is this simple joy of planting so satisfying? Why is it now that I have learned to soak up the happiness that comes with watching a garden grow?
While waiting and praying for rain in the heat of summer, I spent a lot of time with a hose in my hand, watering and thinking about these questions.
The best conclusion I have drawn is that the benefits of gardening are indescribable, so many that I find it hard to write this column. (I don’t understand writer’s block, folks.)
So here’s a scene. My two daughters are playing in the garden with two black Labradors. Their mother-in-law with seltzer in hand, sunglasses and enjoying the warmth of the patio. After a day at work staring at a computer screen, my eyes hungry for natural light, and my brain searching for peace, my garden has become a home within my home to spend time with my favorite people and four-legged friends. .
There are 29 pepper plants (jalapeno, green, banana, and even candy cane), 15 tomato plants (must have small cherries for fresh summer salads), chives, and a single squash plant threatening to go beyond the area. For you serious, long-time gardeners, I know this isn’t a great variety of vegetables. Where for heaven’s sake are the onions or the potatoes? Where’s the sweet corn? The courgette ?
Look, I’m keeping it simple for now and learning on the fly.
One day I will expand my contribution. I am proud of what has been built (especially my raised garden box) so far.
Do you remember the spring of 2021 when lumber prices soared to an outrageous level? Well, I climbed into the rafters of my garage and knocked down some unused fence posts and scrap lumber and built a makeshift raised garden with the help of my neighbor.
Then, on a visit to Platte, I picked up a handful of large cattle feed bins to fill with Hanson County farm soil, thanks to the best friends a guy could ask for. With land prices as high as they are, what a generous gift to share some of that land, huh? Feeders are great planters to have for a $1 donation each. Simple. Profitable.
Presto-chango, an ordinary backyard with a disposable garden. This first year we had close calls from the heat – a weekend getaway made for thirsty plants. But they kind of fueled and allowed my gardening addiction to grow.
My daughters love helping water our plants. Our youngest mostly enjoys being a 4 year old splashing in the overflow, but our 8 year old enjoys the responsibility. These plants need us, she understands, whether we’re watering, weeding or Miracle-Gro(ing).
And, with inflation, we can certainly use those vegetables. As we continue to hear about rising prices in, really everything, I like to take a walk every day to check the soil moisture and see the new little food forming from pollinated flowers. Is this how farmers feel when they go to ‘check’ their fields and livestock?
Soon, the grocery bill will drop thanks to the harvest of gardening fruits – the tangy jalapeno salsa. Summer squash. Autumn tomato soup. The fact that I grew it, put it in the ground in May, and spent countless hours with these plants, that homemade food hits the taste buds differently.
When you get to share that with the good souls in your life, it’s even better.
What am I still doing writing this? It’s 103 degrees outside, the work day is coming to an end and I haven’t checked my garden today. My plants need me.
But I’m sure I need a lot more.