Project Summer 2016: The Garden

I’ve decided I need to cultivate hobbies and pursue activities of personal interest because the empty nest is looming on the horizon and it takes me forever to do anything. I don’t want to be caught off guard with no hobbies in the autumn of my life. Teaching gives me ample time in the summers to delve into projects and try new things, so for this summer’s project I decided to have a garden.

Before I get into the how of this project, let me explain a little bit of the why behind it.  Quite often I feel ashamed at my inability to do very  basic things. I thought perhaps tending a garden and growing food would boost my self confidence. Also, produce is expensive, and wouldn’t it be nice to fill the dinner table with delicious dishes made from vegetables I grew myself? I had visions of big family dinners, my children would be so robust and healthy… It was going to be beautiful. It was also going to be very easy. See, several months ago I read some articles that basically said that memories could be passed down through your DNA. There was more to it than that, but that was what I gleaned from my reading. You can read more about it herehere, and here. And because I came from a long line of people who had worked the land, I believed that gardening was in my DNA and that my body would remember. Looking at that statement now it seems laughable and crazy, but it made sense at the time. (People often think that I am quiet because I am shy and reserved, but honestly it’s because sometimes I have really dumb ideas.)

Now about my garden, I saw this really cute idea on Pinterest explaining how to have a container garden in an old swimming pool. This was appealing to me because I live in a zero lot house, so my yard is very small, and I just happened to have a swimming pool my kids had outgrown. I found the directions here.  I prepped the pool, drilled holes all around the outside, cut holes in the bottom, put in a layer of newspaper, and filled it with dirt. Apparently dirt for a container garden is not particularly cheap, and I’m not a very smart shopper so it probably cost me way more than most people. I spent $80 on plants. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to grow. I like to eat squash, broccoli, and cabbage, but for some reason those things just seemed impossible to grow in a swimming pool, so I planted tomatoes, bell peppers, and banana peppers, none of which I actually eat. But no matter. I planted my vegetables. My garden was ready to grow.

IMG_2704

From the beginning my plants were never healthy. June was an exceptionally rainy month, and the pool didn’t drain well. All of my plants took on a sickly, pale yellow hue. They were puny.  Eventually the weather did clear up and the garden dried out and the plants seemed to perk up a bit. By late June, early July they began to look healthy. My tomatoes were full of tiny blossoms, but only one or two tiny  little fruits. My peppers were doing nothing.

I tended my garden every day, which was actually pretty boring until I began to notice several spots where the leaves and stems had been chewed. Something was eating my plants. I looked and looked and eventually I found this monstrosity:IMG_3119

He was big enough to have a soul, so I couldn’t bring myself to kill him. I recruited my husband and children to pick him off and drop him into soapy water like the internet told me to. I was able to pick off the smaller ones. When you drop the worms into soapy water, they convulse and puke out their insides. I was oddly fascinated by this. I was told I needed to get some sevin dust, but I never got around to it.

By mid-July I finally had some tomatoes. My youngest son and I would go out each morning and check on them. He enjoyed watching them grow. That’s when we met this guy:IMG_3249The guardian of our tomatoes.

All told, I think I got about four tomatoes from my little garden, which I put salt and pepper on and ate like apples. When my bell peppers finally did put out, they were small and squishy. I only got two banana peppers, but I don’t like those anyway, so it wasn’t much of a loss. I think poor drainage was the biggest problem. I don’t think the plants had healthy roots. They may have also gotten too hot because there wasn’t enough dirt in the pool. So basically I spent about $180 on 4 tomatoes.

Once school started I was too busy and exhausted to bother with the garden, so it became a science experiment in decay. This was the garden in early August:

This is what the garden looks like today:IMG_3835

I’m waiting for it to return to the dust of the Earth.

I wouldn’t count the whole experience as a loss, though, because I did learn some valuable lessons. (Cue the After School Special music…) The most important being that I do not enjoy gardening. This is not the hobby for me. Nothing can survive in my house unless it a) feeds itself, or b) cries to be fed. I also learned that a swimming pool full of dirt is very heavy, and getting this garden out of my backyard is going to be a chore. For my husband, maybe.

Next summer’s project will be much smaller and less expensive. I have about 170 days to think about it.

 

To 2016… and beyond!

(This was originally posted on another blog I had a few years ago, I just updated it to re-share.)

To 2016… and beyond!

If you know me, you know that I am OCD about haiku.

counting syllables
five, then seven, then five more
I can’t help myself

What you may not know, is that I’m the same way about acrostics.

Always trying to
Come up with words worth
Reading up, down and
Over
So I can
Tell my feelings about
Ideas in a
Clever way.
See?

It’s what I do.  It helps me wrap my mind around an idea. Anyway, I came across some acrostics I wrote several years ago when I was going through a trying time, and they seemed relevant today. So here are some thoughts for the new year, 2016.

Moving forward
Only limited by
My thoughts
Ever changing
Never still
Tireless in my efforts
Unencumbered by
My past

(I thought about changing the last two lines to Until I reach My goal, but that’s not how it was written originally, so I didn’t)

On Discipline:

Distractions are
Inevitable but
Stay the
Course
It may be
Painful, but in the
Long run
It will pay off
Never fail to meet your
Expectations of yourself.

On Choices:

Choices we make can
Help or hurt
Ourselves and others
It would be wise to
Consider
Every outcome before
Selecting

On Courage:

Carrying
On,
Understanding that
Real bravery means
Always
Going forward
Even when you’re afraid

This one, for my broken hearted single friends,
On SolitudeSpending time
Occasionally in
Lonely
Isolation can be
Therapeutic.
Understanding hurt
Does not come
Easy

This one, as I try to cast a vision for what I want to accomplish in this new year:
Visualization
Is calling
Something
Into being
Out of
Nothing
You know, all creation takes place first in the mind, then in the world. Dream it, be it, make it so. But in order for visualization work, you have to have clarity:
Clearing away the debris
Littering the path to self-
Actualization
Realizing your potential
Is possible when you
Truly focus on the road before
You
For me personally, clarity here means freedom from the influence of the demands and opinions of others. Clarity of mind, clarity of vision, clarity of purpose.
Well, there you are, friends.  Here’s to a healthy, prosperous new year! Happy 2016!!