I have long had a love/hate relationship with gardening.
My mother loved having flowers and in the hot Texas sun in the summer, with tons of other options for my time, I hated weeding her flower bed.
I married a bona fide farm boy/nature lover. When I met Dave, he was a grad student in the biology department, and he was teaching Botany. He has always planted things. I love that he has planted trees anywhere we have lived and especially that he is something of a redbud tree “whisperer.”
We drive past homes we have lived in and love seeing the redbud trees that are flourishing and the oak and birch trees that are 25 years old and providing shade and beauty for whoever lives there now.
When our five kids were young and I was feeding them and their friends, I loved having a garden that produced good, healthy food that I could can and freeze and preserve. It was handy for the budget and helped me keep with my intention to raise healthy kids.
I think I have always largely loved planting. No weeds, soft earth, the hope of new growth. I love the harvest, too. Especially if someone brings it into my kitchen for me.
But I hate weeding. I remember one of our first gardens in Kansas when I was attacked by the hugest grasshoppers I had ever seen while weeding our little garden. The worst was when my dreams of a weed-free strawberry patch in Illinois died after huge rains made all the little seeds left in my hay mulch sprout and grow deep, pesky roots all around my berry plants.
But now, I am older and wiser. And I have more time. And I find myself loving growing things this year.
The pandemic has given my husband, the nature lover, time to focus on ideas for things we can grow. Our first growing efforts at our new home in the woods was inoculating oak and cottonwood logs with mushroom spores.
Shitakes like oak logs and oyster mushrooms like cottonwood, and we have access to both on our wooded property. It is a long waiting process, but we are keeping the logs wet and expect to be eating fresh mushrooms later this summer. I love the anticipation.
Since we have acreage and since we love having birds and wildlife all around, we bought and planted 250 seedlings from the state nursery. All of them are native and have the potential to make lovely color in the spring and berries and nuts in the fall. I love checking in on the plums and hazelnuts and persimmons and hackberries and other shrubs and bushes to watch them take root and grow.
Ever the redbud fan, we have a number of these lovely spring bloomers newly planted on the edges of the woods and in our front yard and at the entrance of our property. I love that they are responding to all of the good dirt Dave is making (thanks to friends with horses!) and the careful watering. I love that they will provide pink beauty in the spring and a shady canopy through the summer for years to come.
It’s been a while since we put in more than two or three tomato plants and greens to keep us in salads, but this year we are ready for more. I find that I still love planting. And I love harvesting the variety of greens we had early on. Spinach, five kinds of kale, colorful chard.
I love that I have a variety of fresh herbs ready for use right outside my door. I love spotting the first of the tiny little squash setting on the vines and seeing the peppers grow longer and the tomatoes begin to show up as little green balls.
We are enjoying the garden we have created. It’s large but manageable with daily vigilance. We used methods to minimize weeds.
We have the time to keep up with the watering and weeding. I find I don’t hate that anymore.
There is something satisfying about pulling stray grass intruders, and violets that are growing where we don’t want them, and unnamed weeds that are hindering the growth of what we want.
Tomorrow, I will make a big batch of saag from the last of the spring spinach and kale and chard from our early garden and freeze some of it. I will put fresh spinach into bags to freeze and those will be fine to add to soups all winter long.
I am anticipating all sorts of fresh dishes to prepare. I’ll freeze extra produce. We’ll give a lot away to anyone who will appreciate organically grown vegetables or a bouquet of fresh flowers that are growing alongside the veggies.
I find that my love/hate relationship with gardening is turning into a true romance that has a rosy future.
It’s all about timing, environment, and attitude. Being in my thirdthird (age 60-90), I have the time to be patient for results, to enjoy the anticipation of future harvest, and I have the knowledge that comes from experience.
I find a lot to love about growing things and about growing older.
What is your relationship with gardening? Has that relationship evolved? Why do you think that is? What do you love growing the most? How do you enjoy your garden and the fruits it produces? Let’s discuss below!