Saturday, April 17, 2010

Grow Your Own

Health problems made 2008 and 2009 horrible years around my house, though all our crises seem to have abated and things are distinctly looking up by now.  One of the consequences of having to deal with in-your-face health problems is that many other details of daily living go by the wayside.  Such as yard work.

I did the best I could to keep the front yard looking presentable enough that the neighbors wouldn’t call the police, but the fenced-in back yard only got dealt with when I couldn’t navigate my way through to take the trash out to the alley without a machete.  Finally, I simply couldn’t keep up with it and found a guy to come by every two weeks and do it for me.

Best decision ever.  It took my yard guy a few visits to get the place looking spiffy again, and now he not only keeps it in good condition, every time he comes, he spends a little time on some beautification project.  Section by section, he cleaned out and relined the xeriscaped areas beside the patio.  He brought in some extra river rock he had left over from another job and filled one of the flower beds that is too shady to grow anything in.  Then, he brought in a leftover tomato plant and planted it by the back fence.

Once upon a time, Don and I were avid, if somewhat unskilled, gardeners.  Many years ago, he built a deep bed garden in the back, where we enthusiastically attempted to grow our own veggies.  I say attempted, because what we learned about raising crops we learned in the southern plains of Oklahoma, where there are seasons.  Arizona is a whole different ball of wax.  The ‘seasons’ are Warm and Hot, Dry, and Not So Dry. Sometimes our garden succeeded, sometimes not, but when we did manage to produce something, it was wonderful.  For several years, we had spectacular artichokes.  We did very well with giant sunflowers, which if you’ve never grown , harvested, dried, and processed your own sunflower seeds, you don’t know what you’re missing. 

The whole time Don was ill, and I was doing basically nothing with the yard, I did manage to cover that deep bed with newspaper, whatever weeds and grass I was able to cut, or leaves I could rake, and a few shovelfuls of soil.  Then, for two years, I used that garden as a compost heap, where I buried all my orts and scraps of food, coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells. And so it sat, and the rain and the heat and the long sunny, dry days, slowly turned my vegetable trash into loam.  Then the yard guy planted a tomato, and we were inspired..

My husband is in good shape again, and for the first time in years, we are growing our own herbs and veggies.  First, two heirloom yellow tomato plants joined their compatriot, then several herbs took up residence in pots and planters.  Then we moved to the deep bed, where now grow melons, potatoes, corn, cucumbers,  carrots, onions, rosemary, lavender, several mints, garlic, and two or three kinds of squash.  Everything looks hale and healthy, and I’m already harvesting fresh herbs for cooking.  The compost is keeping the garden moist and keeping the weeds down.  The tomatoes are covered with flowers.  

The only thing that remains to be seen is if we can sustain this lovely beginning until harvest.


Vicki Delany said...

Nothing better

Marian Allen said...

Go, you! Fresh herbs and veg are wonderful. Remember what Garrison Keillor says is the thrifty homemaker's motto: "We eat what we can and what we can't, we can."