Where a dad of two great kids (one on the autism spectrum) muses about life.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
The school year started out great, but got a bit stressful at the end. Fortunately the corollary to "All good things must come to an end" is "All bad things must also come to an end". So the year ended, and we have been getting back on an even keel.
I am descended from a long line of Eastern European farmers. My ancestors were peasants that farmed the land in Europe, and one set of my Grandparents started out in this country as farmers in the middle of Wisconsin.
So working the earth is in my genes, and you would think it would be second nature to me. Unfortunately I have not had a garden in more than 25 years (probably closer to 30). But Buddy Boy (who wants to be a farmer) had been bugging me this winter to put in a garden this year. My sister (who used to live about a mile from us, but now lives about 350 miles (560 km) from us, had Buddy Boy and Sweet Pea assist her in putting in a garden a couple of years ago before she moved. Buddy Boy loved that, especially when they harvested their crop of corn and beans.
So I relented (I actually wanted to do it myself, but was afraid of disappointing Buddy Boy if we didn't succeed in growing anything). I figured even if our crops failed, it would be good therapy for all of us to put in a garden.
The first thing we needed to do was clear an area. We selected an area at the edge of our property, fenced it in (there are tons of rabbits around here), and began to clear the grass. The first thing we discovered is that although the area where we live was once supposedly an orchard, the land is pretty much an equal mixture of clay and rock. It took us the better part of 3 days just to clear about 100 square feet (9.29 square meters). I may not have gardened much lately, but I knew that this plot of ground was not going to grow much anytime soon (I was even surprised that the grass had grown as well as it did).
So after doing some reading online, talking to my sister, and getting a consult from Daisy at Compost Happens (hey, with a blog name like "Compost Happens" she has to know a lot, right?) I decided to break up the top layer of clay and build up a bed of about 4-5" (about 12 cm) of topsoil before planting anything. I also decided to get some stones from Home Depot and lay a walkway down the middle of the garden, to facilitate access for planting, weeding, and harvesting.
Once we mixed the topsoil in and spread it all out, it was time to get something to plant. I figured we'd have a better chance of getting stuff to grow if it was already a seedling, so off to the gardening center we went. We picked up some seedlings of two types of tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelon, sweet onions, peas, strawberries, and some type of herb that was supposed to attract butterflies. We also got some seeds for beans, carrots (I picked some stubby ones that were supposed to do better in clay soil), and broccoli.
The beans seemed to sprout up to 4 inches (10 cm) overnight. The carrots and broccoli have also started to grow, and we even harvested our first "crop", which consisted of one small strawberry that I had to divide between the two kids. We topped the garden off with "Mr. Sun", which Buddy Boy insisted we buy when we were at Home Depot. He's always been a sucker for inanimate objects with faces on them.
Although I think a synonym that should be listed for gardening is "weeding", it's been fun thus far, as well as therapeutic in helping us all work off some excess energy. And with the problem with salmonella in tomatoes, we might even have a cash crop on our hands!
Me- Joe, husband of a great wife, and dad to two great kids, who were both adopted at birth.
Liz- My ever understanding wife, who manages to wear many hats (mom, advocate, therapist, teacher) for our kids.
Buddy Boy- Born in 2000. Funny, intelligent, inventive, and autistic. Loves machines.
Sweet Pea- Born in 2002. Typical little sister. Competitive, outgoing, and smart. Loves anything pink.