This Year My Garden Will Grow!
My parents always had a garden. They grew vegetables and fruit, harvested, canned, pickled, and froze food to use throughout the winter. At the time I wasn't a big fan of fruit and vegetables, and it seemed like a whole lot of work with little reward. The grape jelly, pickles, and corn were good, but were they worth all the time and effort put into them?
When my children were toddlers, they gave me flowers for Mother's Day that they grew from seeds in paper cups. Of course, I had to plant them. And it seemed like a good idea to show them how to grow food while they had an interest in planting.
We started out with cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and carrots. Except for the stunted carrots, they did well the first two years, but the third year I noticed the tomatoes weren't doing well. When weeding one day, I noticed someone had dropped a colorful toy in the garden and reached out to remove it. The thing reared up and pushed it's horned head at me. I picked up a rock and smashed it. That was my first experience with a tomato worm.
Since then there have been many gardens, many pests, and many bugs. Some years the tomatoes did great but something ate the green beans. Other years there was an overabundance of squash and peppers, but the tomatoes rotted before they ripened.
My children's interest in gardening didn't last past early childhood, though some began growing thriving gardens as adults in their own homes. My grandsons, however, began showing a lot of interest in growing food. They helped me pull weeds and plant. They loved to hold the hose and water the plants. They couldn't wait until it was time to pick the vegetables. They tasted everything, liked some, and hated others.
I bought them bug catchers one summer. Riley was thrilled, as he loved bugs. They were his pets, his friends. Dylan thought bugs were something you killed. There were many confrontations when Dylan went to smash a spider and Riley threatened to smash him.
But it turned out to be a good investment. There were a number of bugs that summer that decided to settle in my garden and feast on my vegetables. The boys spent days in the garden filling up their bug catchers and rescuing my crops from grasshoppers and beetles. When they were tired of catching bugs, they had fun spraying the plants with dish soap and water, which seemed to repel many of the creatures.
My garden wasn't beautiful. Nothing was in straight, even rows. The boys tossed aside the string and tape measure and planted wherever they wanted. That was fine with me. It was a learning experience. The neighbors made a lot of fun of it, but I'm sure they didn't have as much fun as the boys and I did.
This year the boys aren't as interested. They have video games to play and friends to play with. I planted my seeds early in egg cartons and am getting ready to place the plants outside. Even though it will be a solitary experience this year, I'm determined to make it work. I'll have a bumper crop of tomatoes, green beans, peppers, cucumbers, and spinach. The watermelon will be sweet and juicy, and the pumpkins will grow plump enough to make excellent jack-o-lanterns for my grandchildren. Stir fry, zucchini bread, and salad will be on the menu, and the weeds will not overtake the peas.
No matter how dry the summer months become, I vow to make sure my plants receive enough water to thrive, and I have dozens of marigolds around the perimeter of the garden to repel bugs, wildlife, and other pests. I'll have the satisfaction of turning the soil over with my own hands, of being one with nature.
This year my garden will grow. And if it doesn't, I'll still have one heck of a fitness plan and exercise routine to take comfort in.