The following post is from a guest blogger, Tara Rodman-Marine, who just happens to be my wife. I was asked to do a post on how gardens impact the joys of owning a home and since I don’t have a green thumb I turned to my better half whose recent forays into creating a garden have significantly enhanced her view of our home.
My transformation to total homeowner occurred about 3 years ago. After having our second child, I decided to become a SAHM (stay at home mom). More and more of my time was spent performing domestic activities such as cooking and washing dishes. Since I spent more time standing in front of the sink, I spent more time looking out the window at the pathetic grass in our backyard. Our front yard was a thing of beauty: the former owners had paid big bucks for landscaping, but the backyard had too many shade-providing trees for successful grass growth. And I thought we needed grass to make the backyard a perfect play haven for the boys.
I started small by forcing my hubby to sow grass seed every spring and fall. Then we started to get rid of some of those big, shady trees (No worries, nature lovers. We live near a dense wood, so we still have abundant trees to house wildlife). Then I started to think, “You know, I might as well get some use out of these new sunny patches. I have a growing family to feed. Why should I buy veggies when I can grow my own? “And thus the love affair with my home vegetable garden began.
My only gardening experience came from the chores my parents had required of me as a child/teen. My father, gardener extraordinaire, had planted a sizeable garden every spring (I don’t know the exact measurements, but it was at least as large as half of our current backyard). My three siblings and I were required to weed that massive expanse of land every week. How we hated it. Of course, we were also required to pick and prepare the produce in harvesting seasons as well.
The only benefit my sister and I would admit to such labor was that we were able to improve our tans. We had many hours of conversation while we bent over bean plants and picked cherries. Mostly we complained about how mean our parents were for forcing us to do such hot, dirty work. But still, we bonded through the experience of shared misery.
So no one was more surprised than my parents when I told them I wanted my father to build me a raised bed the next time he came to visit. He complied. He showed me what types of soil I should purchase every year or every other year to add nutrients. He showed me how to make a line to plant the seeds, cover the seeds with soil, and how to transplant seedlings, etc.
Every time he visits, he teaches me something else. Last year I learned that certain plants can’t grow next to each other and that some plants are friends. Mostly I have learned that gardening is trial and error.
I believe there’s an Eastern proverb that says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I’m sure my father tried to teach me tricks of the trade when I was a child, but I didn’t appreciate the knowledge. Now, I seek his advice. I share his love of gardening. I even dream about spring and what new type of plants to try from year to year. And sure, we could move to another house, and now I could build my own garden, but I have memories of my father building me this garden bed, and teaching me the ins and outs of planting in this back yard and this garden.
I have already involved my 7 year old son in my gardening venture. He helps with weeding and harvesting. My 4 year old “helps” till the ground in the spring as well (as long as he promises not to kill all the helpful earth worms). I suppose history will repeat itself, and my children will forget their gardening skills; they may despise their despotic mother during the hot months of July and August, but perhaps their own experience of “shared misery” will somehow morph into warm, fuzzy memories of what home meant as my own gardening memories have.
Here’s to gardens and all the things that make a house a home.