Digging, planting, growing

September 25th, 2009

I am digging a flower bed. Reclaiming it from the stretch along the house that has been neglected since R’s parents moved out of this house and into the new house they built on the property in 2000. Weeding, of course, but also digging large rocks out of the ground, using them as a border, and building up the soil. I pried over a dozen rocks, ranging in size from potatoes to large loaves of bread, out of the dirt yesterday and there are as many again still to go. Then on to the other side, newly exposed last weekend after R hacked down a decade’s worth of overgrown shrubbery that the boys dragged off to the wood pile one branch at a time. It is all rocks over there, and I will do this again, the digging up of the rocks, the making of a boarder, the building up of the soil. Then I will put in my bulbs – I’ve got allium and narcissus, crocus and muscari, three colors of tulips – and wait to see what spring brings me.

This too is why we moved here. It wasn’t just the boys who needed more space. It wasn’t just the boys who needed to be outside. It wasn’t just the boys who needed a place they could call their own, a yard and garden to get muddy in, to dig up and cultivate and experiment and make mistakes. It wasn’t just the boys who needed projects and jobs: hauling the wood to the wood pile, wheeling the weeds off to the compost in their wheel-barrows, weeding, digging rocks, planting bulbs. This too is why we moved here.

In the spring I will have rows in the garden. R’s mother has been keeping a farm garden for fifty years (longer; since she was old enough to help, I imagine) – lettuce and onions and beans and cauliflower; tomatoes and squash and zucchini – and in the spring I will have rows in the garden. (Small Boy is ahead of me on this – for the past two years he has had his own row of green beans that he has taken care of from planting through to plucking.) My mother-in-law is in her seventies now and cannot keep up with a large farm garden; she has been turning over more space to flowers, the raspberry canes have gotten out of control, and she cannot keep up with the weeding. She is more than happy to turn some rows over to me. I am new to all this and torn between diving in and planting many rows and moving more slowly. I want tomatoes and zucchini and eggplant and sweet peas. I do not know how to do any of this, but I have a farm wife, a farm wife who was before that a farm daughter, for a mother-in-law and that is better than having an entire shelf of gardening books. In the spring I will have rows in the garden.

We are digging. We are planting. We are growing.