Counting My Veggies Before They Are Planted

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Tomato, pepper, and eggplant plants are growing…out of tiny pots sitting on a bistro table on the deck. Packets of seeds are in a box on the back porch. Three 4-cubic-foot boxes of vermiculite are stacked on the front porch. Bags of various and sundry types of compost take up space in the middle of the garage. A garden trowel sticks up from a bed that also holds a lavender plant where a tomato is supposed to be growing. I keep forgetting to water the lavender plant, which my husband planted while I was away. It would fare better if it were on the bistro table.

At the rate I’m going, I’ll be planting my garden while everybody else is harvesting theirs.

Now, I’m not a gardener. All of my thumbs are brown. Last spring, however, I got the “bug” and had our “honey do” man plow up a garden plot. It was then I discovered that, because of my mobility problems, I couldn’t plant, couldn’t weed, and couldn’t harvest most of what managed to grow. My Sweet Baboo planted, but didn’t seem to want to weed or harvest. Because of the weeds, there wasn’t much to harvest, but we were over our ears in eggplant before the weeds reigned supreme. I had to make a separate folder in my recipes file just for eggplant dishes so we wouldn’t be rotating eggplant Parmesan and moussaka for dinner.

After the so-called garden gave its remaining tomatoes last fall, I had Honey Do build me four 4-by-4-foot square, 2-foot high garden boxes and fill them with a mixture of topsoil and peat moss. Over the winter, the soil settled and, through a bit of confusion, I got another lawn person. Who, when told to put in a mixture of topsoil and peat moss, instead loaded a pile of dirt into his truck and put that in.

When I returned from vacation ready to plant, I was confronted with a forest of weeds. I pulled on one. It broke off at the surface. I dug down into cement…er, clay and rocks. I fired the new lawn guy and got Honey Do back. Honey Do promised not to make me eat too much crow. (Also, he now knows to call me back faster so I won’t think he’s gone AWOL.)

At any rate, I had investigated some gardening methods in the meantime and decided to go with square-foot gardening, which calls for a planting mixture of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and compost — and the compost needs to be a mix of at least five different kinds. Have you ever tried to gather up compost? A store here has one kind; a store there has another kind. I was hitting on gardening friends for a bucket here and there. Those efforts resulted in the addition of a pail to collect kitchen scraps and a rotating composter for outside. (The kitchen pail is stainless steel, which led my husband to ask me why I bought a new ice bucket. Fine with me if he wants to put ice in it, but the ice would be competing with coffee grounds, egg shells, lemon rinds, and such.)

So now I’m not only gardening, I’m also composting. How do I get myself into these things? Oh yeah: I wanted vegetables that taste like they did when I was growing up. Then I got into the information about food additives and how they may be impacting diabetes, which made me even more determined to grow my own. Of course I had to go with heirloom varieties of plants and seeds and use compost as a fertilizer instead of the chemical kind. Why be easy on myself?

Besides, gardening has to be good exercise, even if I do it sitting on my scooter and can’t get into full-scale hoeing or anything. Loosening up 64 square feet of clay with a hand trowel so I could get all the weeds out sure wasn’t a walk in the park, lemme tell ya. It did, however, lower my blood glucose.

Actually, Honey Do did come by over the weekend and get the gardens ready for planting. It would be nice to do that today, but there were thunderstorms all night. My scooter would sink right into the ground, despite the mulch-covered paths. In addition, I think I put my hips on backwards this morning. Ouch!

The garden will happen. The garden will happen. The garden…

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