Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Things We've Handed Down

This week I've been remembering how, when we moved here in August 2008, I was newly pregnant. I started back to full time work (just coming off my mat leave with Violet) three days after we moved in. I was desperate to feel settled, and with my mom's help, took on the task of preparing the garden for planting the following spring. I was dreaming big: Margot was due in March, and the older two were not quite 2 and 4. But I thought that just throwing in a few carrots, peas, beets, and lettuce would be a healthy step towards really feeling at home.

Naturally, by the time Spring was really into full swing, and we were dealing with a sick child, the grass and weeds had already undone what mom and I had accomplished. Still, I persisted; I had a friend come over to care for the kids while I went out to reclaim the garden AGAIN. Those of you with children and a new baby will understand how absolutely priceless it is to have an hour alone doing something you love: knitting, having a bath, gardening. You must choose your activity carefully, as the next free hour might be months in coming! I felt like I was not only reclaiming my garden, but a part of myself.

I weeded and planted. Then we got Margot's diagnosis. The garden was neglected. While we were in the hospital, three former work friends, now retired, appeared like garden fairies and weeded it AGAIN. But once I got home, life was as busy as ever. So I finally had to concede defeat. The weeds had won the battle...but not the war.

Late this past winter, I had a rebellious and revolutionary thought: what if I just didn't garden at all this summer? What if I just took a break, and supported the local farmers' markets? Who would know? Who would care? Our family doctor, God bless him, tells his young mom patients that it is near impossible to raise children AND a garden. This was doctor's advice I just wouldn't question!

But of course, as the May long weekend approaches, which in our part of the world is the starting line for planting any frost-sensitive plants (our gardening deadline...if you're not well into it by then, it's not really worth your time), my green thumbs start twiddling with boredom...and then I just can't help myself! So, yesterday, I braved the blackflies and hot sun. My kids (miraculously) entertained themselves for A WHOLE HOUR in the potting shed and on the play structure. I made some real progress! Of course, the chickens have been scratching it up for the past month and that's been quite helpful. In the picture above, you can see how far gone one end is; yes, that green overgrowth is my garden. There are loads of perennial herbs, rhubarb, spring onions, and asparagus. Oh, and many more weeds.
But I have a little helper; she is so much closer to the ground than I am! I turn the weeds up, and she pulls them and shakes them off.

How satisfying is it to reclaim your territory?

Here's what I accomplished. It looks like I'll be planting a garden, after all!


  1. I'm smiling, because even when you said you wouldn't be planting a garden this year, I was thinking "yeah, right". Glad the green thumb won...our planet needs more gardens, (and it is such good soul work to be out there in the garden)
    xo maureen

  2. Hey, dandelions aren't weeds... You can make a lovely jam from them... ;) But hooray for you!!!

  3. Amy, I thought of that as I pulled this one up...but my to do list is so long that making jam doesn't come into plans until berries start to ripen. So dandelions, for now, just take up space in my potato patch!

  4. Girl- I was all set to do what the doctor suggested and now I want to plant at least half a garden! Thanks for the inspiration! Last year's was too big for me and I wasn't even working out of the home. Now I am so maybe just a few rows of what we love, will do. I know what we'll be doing this long weekend!

  5. I hope Margo is doing better health wise. I always worry when my family has health problems. It can be scary.

    -Zane of ontario honey


This space is a creative outlet for a busy mama; I warmly embrace your comments and feedback, as well as questions/requests for details. I do check them daily and will respond where appropriate! Thank you for visiting the Knitty Gritty Homestead!