Sunday, May 1, 2011

“You can take the man out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the man”

My mom wrote this often cited phrase (attribution unknown) the day after I reported on Facebook that I came home and sheepishly took seed packets out of my pocket, explaining to Jay that “I simply couldn't help myself.” Spring was in the air, and for someone raised on a farm, I just couldn't resist the primal urge to put seeds in dirt. And so I gave in to the urge, stopped at Johannsen's Greenhouse, inhaled the intoxicatingly moist air with hints of dirt and fertilizer, and despite my own complaints of not having enough time to clean cat boxes much less garden beds, decided to spend some time this summer growing things I can eat.

And why not add chaos to hectic? I just decided to blog about a farm-raised man's gardening adventures in the city. To be honest, I laid the seeds of a larger gardening adventure last fall when Jay and I created two compost bins, shredded most of our autumn leaves, and tromped to the bins each week this winter to dump food scraps into the bins. My plan was to use the compost to augment the soil next to the garage so we could have some healthier basil and tomato plants. (Last year we were hit by tomato blight awful).

Last summer I started small with an herb garden, a few basil plants and a couple of miserable tomato plants in some untilled, barren soil next to the garage. The only thing it had going for it was eight hours of southern exposure and sun. New possibilities opened up for this summer when the tree out front fell on our house. While the tree incident was dramatic, it wasn't very traumatic and American Family Insurance took care of it while we were away getting married.

We returned from our honeymoon to a new lawnscape -- a very sunny yard where there had been deep shade that had been protecting hostas, shade annuals, and a healthy community of slugs (they were alcoholics everyone of them, drank all the beer I put out for them and didn't have the courtesy of dying).  While I'm pleased that the slugs won't be happy with their suddenly sunny real estate, we started to wonder what our newly naked lawn. Jay tossed out the idea of turning it into a garden; I wasn't particularly interested in more work. But the idea matured like a fine compost, and I got the idea to plant some fairly maintenance-free plants such as summer squash, zucchini and gourds and let them climb all over the place.

Last weekend, we started the process of converting the shade garden into a vegetable garden by moving hostas into shady parts of the property. In the basement I built a temporary bench with grow lights from previous gardening adventures and started some of the seeds I came home with. These include a packet of seven types of basil, giant basal, ornamental gourds, yellow squash, green zucchini, eggplant, and a number of herb seeds I had left over from years ago that I thought, “what the hell, I'll see if they sprout."
So if you're interested, watch for more posts about how this year's garden grows.


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