Mark vs Cancer

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Summer Gardens

I love to garden.
I freely admit it. Maybe that takes me down
a few notches on the coolness scale.
But the truth is that gardening has become
a deeply held passion for me.
Last summer, because of the timing of our move to Worland, we were unable to have a garden, and I felt a tangible sense of loss.
What was summertime without a garden?
All winter long, I thought about our future summer garden:
What would we plant? How would I parcel it?
What would grow in Wyoming?
Springtime came blessedly.
I tilled the garden, mixed in fertilizer and peat moss,
and waited for the magical date of May 15th,
which was to be the last frost for this latitude.
We planted; we watered; we waited.
Nothing sprouted for weeks.
And then--great tragedy!
Thousands upon thousands of weeds began poking out of the soil.
My fertilizer must have been contaminated. Despair!
Feverishly, I plucked and plucked,
but the next day there would be twice as many new weed sprouts.
It seemed impossible to eradicate the intruders.
I had a very real creepy-crawly sensation,
like I was vicariously covered with cooties.
But then my green beans pushed their green heads
through the crumbly soil.
Next came the carrots and onions,
then the zucchini, the cantaloupe, and the sunflowers.
Finally, the broccoli and the watermelon emerged.
The tomatoes and pepper sprouts began to flourish.
I reformulated my weeding strategy.
I couldn't kill the weeds in their infancy--
there were too many and they grew too quickly.
Instead, I would allow the weeds and the veggies to grow up together,
and then as the weeds matured
they would be easier to distinguish and pluck.
It was a downright biblical plan.
A few weeks went by,
and finally it was time to separate the wheat from the tares.
I spent several hours on several nights pulling thousands of weeds and filling dozens of buckets.
It was sweaty, grimy work--but it was intensely satisfying,
like a purging of poison from the body.
The garden seemed to breath freely
with the eviction of the strangulating weeds,
and within days it seemed to double in size.
Its canopy of shade and expanding root system asserted itself,
preventing the weeds from re-establishing.

And now our garden is lush and green and abundant,
and we are dining nightly on its fruits.
We have succulent greenbeans, gargantuan zucchini,
ripening cantaloupe, bright orange carrots,
pendulous tomatoes, and burgeoning broccoli.
Not to mention a mammoth, twelve-foot tall sunflower!

Watering the garden every evening has become a top priority and a meditative ritual. I shower the garden, I breathe in its humid airs,
soaking in its vitality, its productivity, its earthen, organic vibrance.

I garden, therefore I am.

7 comments:

Matthew said...

I don't know why you think gardening brings you "down a few notches on the coolness scale". As a very cool person myself, I can only say that I envy you deeply. I don't have a yard, let alone a garden. If I did, you can bet I would plant a big one!

From the photos, your garden appears lush and full of life. Clearly you've worked hard at it. There's nothing like eating the fruits (and veggies) of your own labor, is there?

Of course you remember our garden in Missouri when we were kids... zuchinni, zuchinni, zuchinni for the whole neighborhood! Do you remember how we tried to sell it door to door one summer? Of course we had our failures too. Never could get a decent watermelon out of that alluvial dirt out back... I wonder why?

Joy looks very proud of that zuchinni she's holding. But we all know where the credit should go.

Tyler said...

That is a good looking garden!

Just be glad you don't have slugs in Wyoming. They destroyed my peppers and our peas. I've probably killed 40 or 50 of them and they just keep coming, big, nasty, slimy and writhing.

Our tomatoes have survived, but they are all still green.

Goose said...

Mark it sounds like you love your garden. I can't blame ya. If I had a 12 foot sunflower I would be proud also.

Danalin said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Someday we hope to have a garden on such a grand and gorgeous scale as yours. That is one huge zucchini! Maybe we'll be able to reap some of the benefits of your garden when we come next week? :)

m.t.s. m.d. said...

With envy from North Carolina, what a garden! Sounds like all is well! -Matt

Wendi Foster said...

I have always wanted a garden, and your own plot is a very nice looking garden indeed. Definitely a labor of love...and if you need to unload any of those veggies, be sure to being some with when you come down to Denver this weekend. Zucchini bread for everyone!

Dad said...

Wow, your variety puts us to shame. We have found that with the little we can grow of all the stuff we would like to, it is better to grow a lot of one thing then a little of a whole lot of things. Thus we concentrate on tomatos.

I admire your sticking with it and overcoming the weeds. There is a metaphor in there somewhere about overcoming the weeds of life until you end up with a beautiful and fruitful garden.

Way to go Markus. And tell Joy that is one big Zuchinni she has in her hand there.

Did her and Grant find out pumpkin?

Dad