Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Accidental Gardener

I hate yard work.

I come from Arizona, where landscaping consists of dirt, rocks, and cactus…and a lot of it.  So when your parents decide you need to clean up the back yard – which consists of pulling weeds out rock-hard dirt in the middle of 100+ heat – trust me when I say there are no good memories associated with yard work to be developed.

I hate yard work so much that when it came time to buy a home, one of my biggest prerequisites was that we get a condo or a townhome just so I wouldn’t have a yard in which to do work.  However, Nick really wanted a garage of his own, so we compromised and ended up with a house.  Lucky for me, we found a house that had a pool that eats up most of the backyard. 

My thought… I don’t have to pull weeds out of a pool.  Win!

Now although the pool and adjacent decking suck up most of the available territory, unfortunately there is just enough room left over filled with vacant dirt beds.  And when we moved into our new home, in the winter time, when it’s cold, and Gina doesn’t like doing anything outside in the cold – needless to say the back of the house was neglected.  A lot.  Let me put it this way – we closed in October…I finally decided to view the back yard in April. 

I was kinda surprised at how many weeds can grow in such small areas in what seemed like such a short amount of time. 

One evening after work, I decided I was finally going to look at my yard and all the work that lay before me.  As I stood overlooking my mini-jungle, I felt slightly overwhelmed at the idea of cleaning everything out in preparation of a fresh start.  I kicked the leaves away with my feet as I made my way down the patio, already dreading the hours of endless pulling, digging, discarding that lay before me.  Mad at myself for waiting so long to tackle this daunting task, I bent down to pull the first of what was sure to be many weeds, angrily grabbing a handful of leaves…and stopping.

There was something weird on the stems.  Not creepy weird, like bugs or gigantic spiders or anything…but...things. Now I’m no landscaping expert, but I was pretty sure that weeds didn’t have round things on them. 

So in the dying light of day, I pulled out the phone, turned on the flashlight and took a closer look. 

And I found…….tomatoes. 

Little budding tomatoes.   And flowers.  And vines.  And as I scoured through leaves that were truly weeds, I found leaves that led to more vines.   Vines that wound all the way back to the dirt beds that had been vacant months before, without a hint of the secret garden that lay dormant beneath the surface.

I had the beginnings of a garden.

The next day, armed with gloves, a little shovel and a lot of excitement, I got to work.  Pulling weeds and unnecessary grasses out of the way, I uncovered a maze of vines that I was able to clean up in their beds.  Some of the vines were a bit heartier than others, and not all of them had the start of tomatoes on them, but all of them had healthy, good colored leaves, they were well rooted into the ground and plenty of flowers.  For the next hour or so I weaved and tied vines into the cages; and when all was said and done, I had 5 individual vines – some already bearing the beginnings of quite a few tomatoes. 

Two months later…


The vines continue to grow and develop – and now the tomatoes are starting to ripen on a regular basis.  For the last three weeks in a row I’ve spent a couple of hours in the kitchen roasting tomatoes in the oven for pasta sauce and gifts for friends. 

What’s even better is that my little discovery inspired me to branch out (so to speak) and grow a greater variety of herbs than I had ever originally intended:

parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

Try my hand at new vegetable transplants:



chili peppers, bell peppers and cucumbers!

 And even try growing a few things entire from seed:

onions and pumpkins hopefully to sprout by October

And it’s amazing – I’ve found that I look forward to visiting my little garden each day to see what’s ripened, grown or developed from one day to the next.  Heck, I even have company:

And I may be imaging things, but the dinners I make that are seasoned with herbs from my own front yard seem to have just a bit more flavor than before. 

I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’m going to vacate the city for country life and live out my days riding a tractor and milking cows; but I do find myself wandering through the garden section at Home Depot more these days and keeping an eye on the price of mulch and various soils.  And I have started talking to Nick about the possibility of getting my own chicken (true story).  And hey, we are in a drought and that pool is starting to look like one gigantic vegetable bed these days…. 

Then again, that's going to be a lot more weeds to pull. 

Perhaps I'll just admire my little garden from the comfort of my floaties in the pool after all.