For most of my adult years, I have had a vision of being a gardener, creating a vegetable garden with rock pathways, wild flowers blooming, sunflowers leaning over the edges looking down on fresh, organic vegetables that I have grown.
But life has intervened with other responsibilities and circumstances, making it difficult to realize the vision.
I had my first garden in Utah in the early 70s when I moved there to ski and work with my first husband. That first summer I didn't have to work, as I had since I was 17, six years earlier. So, I grew a garden. I laid out saucers of beer to combat the six-inch long slugs. I stuck a hose down the gopher holes after I was shocked to discover that a row of spinach had disappeared--not a leaf, not a root, remained--sucked into the earth by a pesky gopher.
A few years later we moved to the Heber Valley and tilled an enormous garden. But before it was planted, I moved on, divorcing my husband.
My next garden wasn't until eight years later in Del Mar, California. That one started as a two-by-two foot plot carved out of a crab grass lawn next to a fence. But that was enough to inspire my roommates, Hal and Gina, to help out. Next thing I knew the landlord had taken down the fence, opening a large area for a garden. I don't remember how successful the garden was, but the process was fun.
The next garden was in Leucadia, California ten years later. Jared was four and we had moved into a little house overlooking the ocean. I have a clear image of him planting peas. But once again, life intervened. We didn’t plant another garden in Leucadia because I was too busy working.
The next garden was included in the vision of moving to Washington when Jared was nine. Friends had moved from California to Washington a year earlier, and we followed them, finding a house an acre away. We decided that a 30-by-30 foot corner of my acre was a perfect spot to enclose with a fence. The previous owners had gardened the plot organically and had enriched the soil. We planted, but Mary had four young children (out of an eventual seven) at the time, so her time was limited. My memories are of weeds overtaking everything. But, the kale was good. After two summers, I gave up gardening once again. I was working. Mary was busy with kids, and it was too big a task to tackle alone.
The garden lay fallow for 13 years while I raised Jared, went back to college for four years, and then worked for 3-1/2 years.
After I graduated I met Ben. We married and I talked about the garden with him. He had been a orchardist for 20 years and had previous gardens. He wasn't much interested in the idea and I still didn't have time. My vision lay fallow.
But last September, I quit my full time job. Mid winter, Mary and I again started talking gardens. By spring we had purchased seeds. The soil had grown thick with grass, so a lot of tilling was in order. A neighbor had rented a tiller for a day and offered to till. We rented another tiller and Mary's boys, Sean and Jacob, (15 and 17) tilled again. We still had tiny clods we had to endlessly rake. Finally, we were able to prepare, with everyone's help, two 4 by 20 foot beds, divided in thirds to make easy access to each planting. Mary's daughters, Kate and Molly (11 and 13) helped prepare beds and plant seeds.
Into the beds went lettuce, beans, beets, kohlrabi, turnips, green peppers, carrots, and onions. The beds are crowded now, but we are learning space requirements. Outside the beds we planted three rows of potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, jalapenos, cantaloupe, zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkin, and peas, which are still abundant on the vines into the warm days of July.
Ben helped prepare the beds, but his most important contribution was the drip irrigation, which has made all the difference in the success of the garden. I would never have a garden again without it. He attached the lines to the new frost-free faucet we had installed when we had a new well dug last fall. I lift the handle and voila, water flows to almost every plant in the garden.
The vision is in bloom, thanks to Mary, Ben, Kate, Molly, Jacob and Sean. Kate and Molly dubbed the garden the “Giving Garden” as we are able to share the abundance with our friends as well as our two families.
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