Saturday, September 22, 2012

Growing on a Ledge

Every spring my husband, Chris, plants a garden, and every spring I give a little moan.  Thirteen years ago we fell in love with our home on a hill in Upton MA.  Each May, I watch as my husband kills himself turning the soil on this 5 acre ledge.
His excitement about the planting season is infectious.  He starts planning his seed selection as early as Christmas.  Of course, tomatoes are his love.  We debate how many plants to buy.  I think 10 are plenty, but we settle on 20 only to find  40 more on planting day.  One year he planted 80 tomato plants.  I thought he was going to blow an artery digging into the hardpan.  
Every year we kept prospecting for different garden locations: on the hillside, the front lawn, behind the house, behind the barn – the sheep ate all the tomatoes that year.
After many disappointing growing seasons, I suggested joining a CSA or community garden.   His reply would always be, “Why do we need to go somewhere else to garden”?  This answer would frustrate me, and only recently did I understand why.
We grew up watching our grandparents and our parents growing their gardens.  The saying, it’s in your blood, sort of holds true.  For Chris, his garden belongs in the backyard around family.  
I delivered my husband a blow when I announced, last fall, I wanted to build a riding arena in the spot where he planted his struggling garden.  "We're going to hit ledge", he said, as he tried to defend his anemic tomatoes.  As his anxiety mounted, I reassured him the arena was a practical use of the space, considering we have the horses.  So, we flattened the garden, took down some trees, and the arena was born.   Amazingly, we didn't hit ledge, what we did find was lots and lots of rocks. 

The piles of stone were put to good use, this spring, when Chris built a wall around the arena and back filled the edges with compost, making a terraced garden.  We planted Hubbard squash, zucchini, gourds, and nasturtium.  Near the barn we planted beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets.

As the growing season draws to a close, I give a sigh of  relief, the garden was a success!  The combination of good compost and new found sunlight, made all the difference. Everything we planted produced like never before.  We had zucchini and cucumbers coming out of our ears. Except for Mr. Groundhog nibbling on the tomatoes, everything flourished.  Sometimes, success comes when you least expect it.  Even though we didn't plan combining the arena and garden, it turned out to be a win-win.  I guess you can have your cake and eat it too, or in our case, your cuke and eat it too.

Joy! :)

- Trish

1 comment:

Lauren Scheuer said...

AAAA! Awesome post, Trish!!!!!
So entertaining!
Is there ANYTHING you two can't do?