Thursday, May 30, 2013

In the weeds, 2013 edition

So this year my vegetable garden is enormous. Sixty feet of green beans, thirty feet of carrots. Cabbages and tomatoes and corn oh my. Basil for year-round pesto, if I get my way.

In my heart I think I am a raised-bed-square-foot gardener but as of last year we became (spectacularly badly) farmers. With gorgeous, enormous beds-o-weeds. Because chemicals, not so much. (And don't get me started on genetically modified anything. We cannot afford that rant.)
So anywhat this year my father-in-law has very diplomatically put himself in charge of weed control. And because of that there is probably some hope for our row crops.
Let's just say that after last year, the expression "hard row to hoe" means a lot to me. I am demoted to the care of my gorgeous raised beds, which I filled with the herbs and tomatoes and peppers after I shoveled on the compost. Mah-self.
Oh and I am also responsible for the two-hundred-square-foot (or so) perennial garden which is packed with heirloom peonies, daylilies, roses and irises and of course weeds. On that front my history is repeating itself to the extent that a neighbor girl stopped and offered to weed it for me.

I think she might've wanted to be paid.

And since my own teenagers and pre-teens are much cheaper labor (they work for popsicles) I thanked her kindly but declined, whereupon she proceeded to join my children on the redneck slip-n-slide they made out of a tarp on the hill behind the house. While I went in to put some more juice and yogurt in the popsicle molds just in time for them to freeze for the end of the sprinkler festival.

So I still have weeds.

Which brings me to the metaphorical point of this post.

When a girl, say someone I know well, takes on too much (dance lesson delivery six days a week for four girls; the care and toilet training of one toddler boy; voice, flute, sewing and piano one per customer per week; equestrian and farm animal insanity daily; academics at the table and on the run; "side jobs" of a onetime, long-neglected, true love: writing and editing; occassional clerical and administrative details of her husband's engineering business) and won't admit it that it is too much, or can't edit it down to manageable levels of crazy, when this happens to the extent that she doesn't even care about massive overuse of the comma, well, then, this girl may have cause to understand the phrase "in the weeds."

Some days I can't see the flowers of my life for the weeds. I'm just sayin'. At those times I know I must sharpen my focus and choose to see only the beauty amongst the chaos. Because the need for a floor-length black gown for a vocal recital shouldn't reduce one to tears. And showing up on the wrong day for a doctor appointment shouldn't cause a panic attack.

So. Focus on the beauty and let the rest recede into blurry background. Easier said than done, you say? And you'd be correct.

I started researching panic disorders and adrenal failure and in general regretted having access to the internet before I remembered that when cleaning out a flowerbed, just as in cleaning out a closet, or a schedule, it is best to start with what you want to keep.

What brings me joy, what can I not do without, what is worthy of my time and the space in my life? These are the questions I have asked myself periodically to regain a sense of margin and peace about our schedules and our lives. NOT "who expects me to continue this" and "what will happen if I don't do that."

Then, after identifying the keepers, the perennials that bloom, attack it with a sharp hoe. And mulch it all around so the weeds can't creep back in too quickly. Don't forget to ask for help if you need it. Don't let it go for so long that the taproots of busy-ness are impossible to dig.

Notes to myself on gardening and life.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

If I were a gardener

 If I were a gardener I'd probably wait until the last frost date to plant those tomatoes.
 But two weeks of 80 degree days and 50 degree nights and I. just. could. not. wait.
The garden is bigger this year than last. We (the famous "royal we")
tore out the fence between the Hill at Bag End (anyone?)
and the garden in order to expand into the sunniest areas.
For reference, the fence used to be on the left side of this photo.
The fence you still see separates the horse paddock from the garden.
At least until some equine with a long neck and
a lot of determination needs a snack of corn.
There is really no way to move our garden to another area on the property
(at least without a good deal of expense and
also shuffling the chicken yard or children's play yard)
but we could and did capture a little more sunny footage for the corn and beans.
A new fence may or may not go up on the west end. I kind of like that open feeling. The deer may like it too.
 The original homesteaders here cleared (read: clear cut) the steep hillside to the back of the garden and horse paddocks. They operated a sawmill on our creek and some of the stumps are so huge (and ugly) that they have not rotted in all those decades. We are slowly replanting that hillside on the "back yard/garden" side but we have not decided what to do about the hill on the "horse" side.
Stay tuned because a good idea is bound to emerge.
Between other projects. And dance lessons. A-hem.
Composted manure enriches our raised beds and traditional tilled gardens. Amazing stuff, and free. Last year we had to purchase soil to fill the newly built raised beds because we weren't ready to use the previous owner's compost. I would not like to have to pay money again for what seemed to be mostly wood fiber.
 A very old grapevine that we discovered in the mown lawn is flourishing on its one-year-old arbor. Last year we even harvested grapes! That was a blessing to me because I was loathe to leave behind our gorgeous grape arbor at the old farmhouse. Similarly here we uncovered a 40-foot row of raspberries that were choked with grass just beyond the beautiful existing strawberry bed.
It is a happy report that the raspberries are looking great this spring as are three young blueberry plants that the sweet sellers planted not too long before we moved in.
To that berry garden we added three additional blueberry plants,
a gift from friends with a nursery, and two currant bushes.
My lavender at the front door is huge! Last year it was root-bound in a four-inch pot; this year it is competing with the already-in-residence purple columbines. Soon both will fade and be replaced by the squeal-worthy peony show.
A girl's gotta have flowers. And the odd Grecian statuette.

Are you gardening this year?