Green Thumbs

Today my thumbs were green. Granted they got that way by handling grass clippings AND what is actually green are my gardening gloves, but still I think it counts. This year I am tending to my very first veggie garden. Yes I am 31 years old have just planted my very first garden. I've had herb gardens before - in fact I had *the* herb garden at my parent's house my entire High School career. I've had flower gardens. I've just never planted rows of edible results before.

As I obesses over this neat set of mounded rows I find myself wondering why I never did this before. It takes a lot of time from me. I end up watering it daily if its not rained. My brother did the work of turning it and preparing it for me this spring while B was on his business trip. Bro decided that the best way to structure the garden was with raised beds - and so I have raised beds. When the current crop of photos in my camera get developed I'll post a picture of what I'm talking about in the blog. Well raised beds, I'm finding, tend to get dry fairly quickly. Or maybe its just my imagination. Lord knows. Anyway, I am a watering fiend. Luckily the little guy helps me out. Or so he says. He walks next to me holding one the hose about a foot and half below the nozzle and commands me to water 'that one' and then to move on.

I also seem to weed daily. The area my garden is in used to be a row of raggedy, pathetic trees that starved each other for light and nutrients. It was also an area where nothing but vines and weeds grew and we never did much to contend with either until the 'boys' (aka my husband and brother) cut down a few trees and then my brother turned the ground over where the garden would go. I'm convinced the weeds I see today are seeking revenege on us for destorying their parents. I can weed tonight and still go out tomorrow to a garden that looks like I've ignored it for four months. That's ok. It gives me something to do while the little guy plays in the sandbox for the Nth time in a day. Oh, he also helps me weed. He sits in one of the trenches and pulls his little kid gardening tools through the ground pulling up weeds. So far he's very good about understanding what's "real" and what is "evil."

And I tend to experience extreme amounts of pride daily as if the three "W's" - my watering, weeding, and worshiping - really are what make these plants grow like mad. I swear I left for a weekend a way last week and my tomatoes were about 3 inches taller when I got home the following day. I find I take this like its an indication that I'm good at sticking something in the ground and convincing it to produce magic beans or something. Hey, at least I can honestly say that I have douced each plant once already with Miracle Gro and plan on doing so again tomorrow.

Details aside, what I've found most wonderful about gardening is the stress release it provides. Kneeling in cool dirt and pulling weeds I find I forgot whatever it is that has been eating at me. Pinching off early blooms from a tomato plant or retraining my pumpkin vines suddenly takes more focus than that idiot boss of mine and his sexist ways. Watching my son gleefully take handfuls of cut grass and tossing it down around the ever growing produce bearers makes me forget that just moments before he was throwing a fit because I refused to let him have pudding and chocolate for lunch. When I'm in that little space of garden my world s simple. Its pleasant. My biggest concern is whether the thing I'm thinking of pulling is a weed or a baby sunflower plant.

This garden gives me peace and pride - and honestly, what occurs to me now, what means the most quite honestly - is that its given me another thing to share with my children. My son loves to help in the garden. He's selected certain plants that are "his" and he waters them with his little elphant watering can like its all that matters in the world. "I good gardener" he says proudly as he smiles, dirt smudged on his cheek and a weed hanging from his not-yet-two-year-old hand. We stand in our trenches and we find worms to 'pet' and oogle at. We watch butterflies flit by. We collect ladybugs to re-deposit on cumcumber pants. We talk about how things grow and what "good bugs" are and how we can touch but only if we pet nice. Then we talk about how its ok to smush a mosquito. We talk about good foods to eat. Together we stand at the grass' edge and we admire how "our" garden grows. I know that someday he may hate the whole thing. He may roll his eyes when I ask if he wants to help weed. Or not. My brother, now 27 years old, still loves to get down and do the hard work. Turning the garden. Building said raised beds. He likes to help plant. He likes to watch things grow and to tend to it all. Even in his crankiest of days, he'll sit out there with my mom and garden. This is what I cling to. This is what I hope for. That this simple rectangle of land in my yard will become a constant for us too.

Well that, and that my tomatoes taste like real, yummy, Jersey tomatoes and my blueberry bush actually produces fruit. (And for the record, my tiny little blueberry bush has about a dozen green berries growing now!!)

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