Hello, old friends and welcome new subscribers. For those of you in Australia, your growing season just finished, but we’re just starting here.
And so is a family ritual.: GIVING UP ON GARDENING.
In Grandma’s era, they hitched the horse to the plow, tilling a quarter acre for the garden. Mom’s era used a tractor. Like the women who came before her, it was simply how they fed the family through the winter.
So like my foremothers, each spring, I USED TO nag Dallas Cowboy Fan until he tilled my patch of dirt. Growing season is short in Oregon. For 4 months I planted weeded, watered, debugged, harvested, and canned.
That garden exhausted me for over 20 years. When I lay down on summer nights, it felt as though my bones were sinking to the backside of my body.
About six years ago, I planted half the garden. And then, I graduated to planting only a quarter of the garden.
For the last three years, I’ve kept the plot weeded and composted, but haven’t stuck a seed in the ground. I’m full of excuses.
And now the earth is tilting again. The soil is waking in the northern hemisphere. The garden is calling.
I remember the day Grandma said she wasn’t able to work in the garden anymore. We were shocked. She was giving in to old age. And twenty years later, when Mom started planting tomatoes in buckets from Home Depot, we knew the end of her era was coming.
So a couple of weeks ago, I stood, surveying my dirt. It made me tired to look at it. I decided to let the ground go back to the wild again. No more work for me.
But then, the memories invaded.
- The giddy thrill of leaf-tips breaking through the soil.
- Wars on rabbits and deer.
- Cats keeping me company, watching from under the zucchini plants.
- Missing green beans, strawberries, and melons because Scout and his friends had been in the garden snacking.
- Kids digging taters and squealing like it was buried treasure.
- Trudging to the house in the past-dusk, arms full of corn and tomatoes.
- Night dew making the smell of earth rise.
- Moonlight on cornstalks, as we waited to chase raccoons away.
How many hours had I spent on hands and knees, working this dirt? I wasn’t ready to plant in Home Depot buckets yet. So I visited our Master Gardener’s Association.
It seems gardening has changed since the way Grandma and Mom did it.
Gone are the days of tilling a big rectangle of dirt each fall and spring.
Weed-Less is the “thing” now.
So, I put down a weedbarrier where I DIDN”T want to grow anything. And topped it with cedar chips.
I added drip irrigation (instead of my spitting sprayer). (conserving water)
Floating row covers, give a head start on the season, and protect from critters and air-borne weeds.
In winter, spent plants will be removed, disturbing the soil as little as possible. Soil is covered…and awaits the call of Spring.
Folks say, they haven’t tilled their garden in 20 years, using this method. This isn’t weed-free. But weeding and watering take very little time each week. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s working out.
I know there’ll come a day when I won’t put in a garden
anymore. It’s coming.
But until then, I’m tethered to the women in my family, who for some reason sensed a calling each spring to put seeds in the dirt and wait.
And so it begins…
Here’s more about Weed-Less Gardening if you’re interested.
For new subscribers..
You might like to know that I also write another blog, Before Morning Breaks, under a different name. It’s a different post than this one. My apologies to those of you who didn’t like the same post in both places last time. I understand and don’t mean to disappoint, and will strive to keep the topics different. Thanks for letting me know what you like (and what you don’t).