I am pretty excited about the daily watering/watching things grow part of gardening. Just yesterday I noticed that my radishes had popped through the soil and I felt an embarrassing amount of pride and joy that it had happened – that I had put those seeds in the ground and watered them and they grew into plants.
I am also more of a fan of outdoor labor than most of you might assume. I get immense satisfaction out of doing hard things, especially things that could be considered exercise. I liked hauling the bags of soil around, the digging of randomly placed ferns until my palm blistered, even the back-breaking work of hacking at an invasive root system and yanking as much of it up as possible. (There was more of it than we thought, roots everywhere, which we will have to continue to tackle next year).
The part of gardening that I hate, at least so far, is the tedium in between. I was annoyed at the trips to Menards and Bachmann’s. I didn’t like choosing plants or assessing seeds. I didn’t even like planting the seeds or putting plants in the ground. I hated putting net over the garden to keep the critters out. Spreading mulch? Forget about it. I want to do the hard stuff, and then watch things grow. Joel and Claire can be in charge of the rest.
The clean-up process took the better part of two weekends, with the planting happening piecemeal and almost haphazard. Once we got a space ready, we ran out and bought stuff to fill it. The bulk of the first weekend was spent wrestling with those pesky ferns and spreading mulch over half of the backyard. It definitely resembles a dog park back there, which is not ideal but better than a giant dirt pit, which is inevitable with giant dogs. We also did some major root hacking, and managed to get some shrubs planted in the space outside our fence – which is where the bulk of our landscaping will take place because it gets such good sun. We planted:
- Rose Glow Japanese Barberry
- Golden Carousel Barberry
- Tufted Hair Grass
- Bordeau Steel Blue Meadow Sage
- Desert Eve Deep Rose Yarrow
- Purity Candytuft
- Snow Cone Candytuft
- Rainforest Sunrise Hostas
- My Mother’s Day flower seeds from Claire, which are currently in the garage behind a bunch of drywall, so I can’t share the variety. For shame!
The following weekend we prioritized getting the vegetable garden pulled together, and also planted three pots alongside the garage in the “dog park” area. (Looking at all that mulch was sort of depressing, and we needed a pop of color somewhere.) The pots are still filling out and are kind of unimpressive right now, but we planted:
- Two pots with Solar Eclipse Heucherella
- One pot with Kong Jr. Coleus (scarlet)
- All three pots with Catalina Grape-O-Licious
- All three pots with Kong Jr. Coleus (rose)
For the vegetable garden, I bought this three-tiered planter bed from Amazon. It is not as fancy-schmancy as I would maybe like, but it went together quickly and without fuss, and it feels like a great starter garden for me. Remember, I haven’t grown food since I was a kid. And then it was mostly just me eating food out in the garden in my diaper (as the story goes) and not so much as me actually growing things. In the veggie/herb garden I planted:
- Touchon heirloom carrots
- Cherry belle radishes (I will freely admit to buying the radish “tape” to ensure the seeds were properly spaced, with is probably why the radishes are already poking through and I haven’t heard a peep from my chard or carrots – also, the maturity times are very different, but I am convinced the other seeds are doomed.)
- Swiss Chard, Burpee’s Rhubarb
- Candy Apple sweet peppers
- California Wonder sweet peppers
- Old German heirloom tomatoes
- Homeslice tomatoes
- Sugar snap peas in a big pot, added on impulse at the last minute
- Sweet Basil
- Orange Mint
There are lots of things we’d like to do with this little space. Next year we’re going to have to do more root excavation, and once we figure out how all the previous owner’s perennials are going to grow in, we’ll probably separate and move a bunch of them. (They are oddly clumped right now.) I suspect that Joel will wage war against Claire and I in an attempt to get rid of all the garden tchotchkes. Except for the red pinwheel and a passive-aggressive dog ornament, all the garden decorations were left by the last owner, who certainly liked her yard ornaments. As it turns out, seven year olds have the same taste as 70 year olds, so Claire loves having all that stuff around and I’m inclined to let it go on her behalf.