Thursday, March 3, 2011

The First Day in the Garden

The view from my workspace!

Overwintered yellow tomatoes.
Yesterday, March 2, was the first day I spent in the garden. It was a sunny day and I spent some time just walking the garden, seeing what's going on in there, before I did some clean up work. I need to get all of the non-plant materials out of the garden before our landlord comes and bush-hogs and tills the garden areas. As I was walking the length of the garden (about the size of a football field, or slightly less) I grew both nervous and excited with each step. Nervous because it's so large, and although I have gardened for many years, I've never done it on this scale. And nervous because the most of the plant material I was stepping on was weeds, and seeds were just flying freely. Weeding is going to be a major issue this spring. But excited as well... it's so large, and there is so much possibility. And I have so much to learn. As I walked around the garden, I wished I knew the names of all the plants I saw. Especially the pockets of red-limbed thorny brambles. Every time I see brambles, I think of berries, but as one of my neighbors pointed out, they could also be weedy roses. There are other, less thorny, slightly brown and thicker-stemmed brambles on the edges of the garden. I hold more hope that those are some of the berries... As I walked, in the sun, with nothing but a background of woods rustling in the wind and birds singing (and the vultures checking me out) and rabbits running from cover, I realized that this is possibly my most fantastic workspace yet.
Last fall we found tomatoes growing all over. The most accessible ones were the cherry tomato plants growing in an old pig pen, and some larger types growing in the barn. There were cherry tomatoes growing near the old burn pile, and yesterday I discovered waves of yellow cherry tomatoes in the garden. They must have grown all summer, and nothing ate the fruit. It got me thinking that this is a whole new type of environment for me: one in which plants can grow unbidden, unwatered, and still thrive.
The secret gate to the garden...
I spent a few hours pulling out old irrigation lines. These plastic lines run the length of the garden, and were likely placed directly on the ground to provide an extra boost of water. But since the garden went wild last year, these lines are trapped underneath piles of wind- and snow-blown weeds that stand, at times, eight feet tall. Pulling out the lines was exhausting, but exhilarating. I found old seed flats that I can reuse to start new seedlings in. I found an old rusty bucket that's going to become a planter. I found piles of wooden posts for fencing, an old gate, a hidden entrance to the garden from the far southeast corner, coming from the bottoms near the creek, along with rediscovering the joy of working outside.


  1. I'm so excited for you!!! I am going to have to stop by on the way home so you can show me your garden. Did you save the seeds from those yellow tomatoes? Oh nevermind, they are probably GMO.

  2. Joe,

    I remember moving east in the 1980's, and when bought a house we asked the realtor about a sprinkler system. He had a hard time with the concept. Between the lack of need to water, and the fecundity of the yard, that first spring / summer was an unending delight: new things everyday, and things one can't grow in more arid climes. Magnolias and flowering rhododendrons were my favorite surprises.