Monday, May 27, 2013

Improving My Green Thumb and My Youth

This daffodil bloomed in our front yard April 24th.

I love getting my hands dirty, literally, dirty.  The smell of ground in topsoil and mud on my hands sends my olfactory senses into overdrive.  My memory bank kicks into gear and sends me back to when I was a kid.  My friends and I would dig holes into a exposed hillside and stick our action figures in, then we'd retreat to the bottom and toss bombs (rocks) at one another's man to see who could knock whose out first.  We'd entertain ourselves for hours doing this.  We'd be covered from head to toe in dirt and dust and we'd be hungry and thirsty.  From the eroding bank we'd sneak up to the garden and get ourselves some peas and carrots to snack on and we'd wash them in the hose.  When I get my hands dirty I go back to being a kid.
Whenever we get the chance my wife and I try to make sure our kid's hands are dirty.  Recently we just planted our first vegetable garden and they worked hard helping us prepare the ground and to plant the seeds.  I honestly thought "It'll be tough keeping them focused long enough."  It turned out I was wrong and as long as they kept finding worms to rescue, they kept right on digging and planting.
Our garden is not huge but it has 2 rows of peas, 2 rows of beans, and 2 rows of carrots.  Each row is about 8' long and spaced about 30" apart, which is what the instructions on the seed pouch indicated was appropriate.  The last time I worked in a garden I was just a kid and didn't really pay attention to the details.  There was slightly more to it than simply plugging the seeds in the ground.  I created a spacing and depth stick for each of the kids and they used the stick to create a "planting pocket" for each seed that was the right depth and space from the previous seed.  Each seed has different spacing and depth requirements.
The peas, it was suggested be planted 2" deep and 10" apart, while the beans should be the same depth but could handle being only 6" apart.  The easiest was the carrots as we could simply sow them in a straight row with no detail for spacing, however, my son my have gone a bit overboard in one area.  The local rabbits might love us later on this summer.
We've already been out a number of times as a group to weed and water our little patch of groceries and I'm sure by mid summer it will be something the kids will want to do as by then a water fight will be more appealing.  The weeding is likely to be a bit of a fight but my wife enjoys that aspect and getting her hands dirty that way so as a team, we have things pretty well covered.  Our seeds were sowed on May 5th and by May 15th we now have peas, beans, and carrots starting to sprout in our garden.  I can't wait to see how it all turns out and to eat some vegetables that we all grew together.
If we have a modest crop this year I'm already making plans to expand and grow a couple more things next year.  I may be getting ahead of myself as I'm not known to be a green thumb, so I will keep my dirty fingers crossed in hopes that we can keep the dog and other animals out of our garden.  With our dirty hands I think we are all living a bit more like a kid and feeling more youthful so I can see why gardening is considered by many to be therapeutic.
If you have time you should check out the garden at Sussex Regional High School or the Co-op Community Garden.  No doubt they'll bring back your youth.

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