It’s Grow Time

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Each October, as we haul brown bags around the yard, dismantling the remains of the garden, I swear I’m going to take a season off. Surely it would take less effort, be more affordable, and definitely more reliable, to stop at one of the nearby farmers’ markets for fresh produce. But then April arrives, with its fresh air and buds and promise, and I find myself watching the calendar with a mounting sense of panic: “I’ve got to get the seeds started!”

Radish plants grown from seed © Allyson Scott

Funny how things change. As a kid, gardening was a chore, something my mother forced me to help with before I could go and play (or in my case, go read a book). My best friend used to joke about “doing time in the patch” at our cottage, when we crouched in the sandy soil and braved fire ant bites to pick wild blueberries. I loved the way our gardens looked, and certainly loved the way Mom’s blueberry pies tasted, but I wasn’t keen to toil in the dirt. Mom says she always found it meditative, but that isn’t something a ten-year-old brain can appreciate. I sure do now.

A raised vegetable garden was the first thing Jody built me when we bought our house. Having a yard, planting a garden, and growing some vegetables was a very appealing aspect of going from a leased condo to an owned property!

Jody building the vegetable garden, April 2010 © Allyson Scott

Sadly, her creation gave up the ghost this winter, throwing a wrench into my parents’ plan of having an animal-proof enclosure built for our garden as a birthday gift.

Enter our intrepid contractor Jason Deschamps–who must feel like this is his home away from home, considering he’s renovated some portion of each floor of our house! Jody spoke to him about rebuilding the garden box, and incorporating the enclosure from my parents. Jay agreed to take the project on after the May long weekend. Spring just wouldn’t be spring without a contractor’s truck (or two) in our driveway!

As always is the case, first there was work to be done before the work could be done. Last year, we asked our landscapers to put a few river rocks around our shed for drainage, and they took it upon themselves to install massive patio stones, along with more rocks than we ever wanted. I relocated all of those, while Jody slowly shovelled out all of the organic earth and compost, and dismantled the rotten boards.

Relocating the rocks © Allyson Scott

The blank slate © Allyson Scott

Cue the band, as Jason arrived and got straight to work levelling the ground and framing our new, much-improved (sorry Jody!) garden.

Jay’s sturdy creation © Allyson Scott

Next came the laborious process for him to cut and nail the heavy-duty wire mesh into place–strong enough to keep out the most determined raccoon (or squirrel, groundhog, or occasional spaniel!).

Now that’s a garden! © Allyson Scott

Curious spaniels – if only we could grow them! © Allyson Scott

Jason at the end of a long day © Allyson Scott

Then it was our turn for some additional hard labour. First, cutting more wire mesh to line the bottom (truly just an excuse for Jody to buy those new tin snips), then landscape fabric, and finally (ugh) some sheet plastic to protect the plants from the pressure-treated wood.

Jody cutting wire mesh © Allyson Scott

Jody lining the garden with landscape fabric © Allyson Scott

Lastly, I returned all of the earth to the garden, shovel by painstaking shovel, and added a few more layers of fresh compost.

Returning the soil to its new home © Allyson Scott

At long last it was ready to house the seedlings that had spent the last few weeks desperately leaning towards the sunlight in our front window!

Seedlings in the new garden © Allyson Scott

I don’t know what successes and failures this season will bring, only that there will likely be several of both.

But even if we only get one beet, or two tomatoes…we will savour them. And I’ll try to take my mother’s advice, and meditate while I do the work to grow them. Thanks for the garden and the gardening bug, Mom!

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