Destruction, reclaimation, and growth

Posted: July 23, 2012 in Food, House and home, Nature
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With all the traveling I’ve been doing, my garden has consisted mostly of flowers with some herbs and peppers interspersed.  It’s too difficult to get someone reliable to keep a real garden watered while I’m back and forth and seeing a potentially abundant garden wither and the ground crack is heart-breaking, to say nothing of a waste of time and money.  However, I succumbed to a few more exotic additions while at the farmer’s market, but lacked the space to put them.   When we moved into this house about 27 years ago, my husband built two raised beds that have, in their time, nourished tomatoes and other regulars of the veggie family.  However, the beds had become overgrown–one almost completely full of chives, the other with some oregano and the ever-encroaching mint–plus a variety of weeds, trees-in-training and other plants.  So my first job was to reclaim that space.

Before–the claim of the wild

For about a week, I went out early every morning for an hour or so and fought the wild plants for my space.  Using a hoe, I hacked away all the plant parts above ground.  Then, a third of a bed at a time, I dug up chunks of earth, then chopped them to pieces with the spade.   After that I used the hoe to hack them into even smaller bits, pausing often to wrest out as many of the multitudinous roots as possible.  Finally, it was the turn of the metal rake, gradually turning the smaller pieces back into recognizable soil.  Ohio soil is not like the soil I grew up with in Nebraska.  In the latter, the remnants of the prairie earth are dark and friable.  You dig into the ground and it waits to receive the seeds or plants and help them to grow.  Ohio soil might be beloved by potters for its clay (although I have no idea if it’s the correct sort of clay) but it’s hell for potential gardeners.

After exercising many sets of muscles, I’d reclaimed both beds and was ready to plant.  I’d splurged on two sweet potato plants and a pumpkin and all three were already sporting blossoms while in their pots, so they were ready to go into one bed.  The second bed so far holds only the more exotic prickly pear cactus, something I’m not sure the next owner of the house will appreciate, but we’re enjoying watching it grow rapidly.  And I can be assured no animals are going to be eating it, although I know some birds might.

After–with my little sweet potato plants (front and back) and pumpkin (middle)

Today, after a week away, I drove in and parked the van, got out to check the garden and was astonished.  The pumpkin is threatening to leave the bed and there are a lot of pumpkins-in-the-making, an exciting sight!  The sweet potatoes have also grown, although not as much and they’re not traveling out of the raised bed.  I love it!!  The prickly pear has grown new…I don’t know–what are new sections of a cactus called??  Whatever they are (and it’s too late for me to look them up), there are more of them, being all prickly as is their wont.  Prickly pear jelly, anyone?  (No pears, yet; I’m just dreaming.)

The Halloween escapee and one sweet potato plant

Another view

Several pumpkins-to-be

It’s exciting to have been a part of this cycle of life, death, and new life; to be waiting for the arrival of the combination of beauty and food or, in the case of the cactus, something a bit more exotic which is will nourish a different facet of our lives.  Although I’m still surrounded by most of the boxes and mess of my trip, I’ve spent a bit of time with my daughter, caught up on a bit of the excitement of the Tour de France and am ready to catch up on a bit of sleep.  But in the morning, I’ll be outside watering the growing life in my little garden, including the pots of peppers and parsley on our flat garage rood, safe from the depredations of deer, racoons and chipmunks, and the flowers gracing the front and sides of the house.  Catching up on the business of life.

Safe and now, much larger

  1. Doggy loves to eat those purple flowers.
    I picked up a little palm on the street the day I moved in, it was half dead, plants always die on me but I liked that one, brought it home and left it out, now everybody in the building takes care of it, I’m not good gardening. Your project looks really good, those pumpkins are gonna be ripe just in time for halloween.

    • Glad Doggy’s not around to compete with the deer and chipmunks for my plants!! It would be so cool if we have lots of pumpkins, whether for Halloween or not. At the rate the plant’s going, I may start selling pumpkins. 🙂