Friday, July 15, 2011

magical, AND highly experimental, garden project 2011

It's Friday, and we have three or four layers of messes yet to clean up (from the fun we've had over the last week - get togethers, dinners, pool runs, etc)... We are thick in the Summertime flux...pack, unpack, repack (camping, backpacking, spending time at the lake)....and when we are here (in Missoula), we're usually not here (in the house, near a computer, that is).  We are up a mountain... we are at the pool... we are at a play date... we are in the backyard... in our garden!  I love the way that last phrase just rolls off my tongue.  In our garden.

I've had gardens before, but nothing like what the start of this promises to be for us.  During my first couple of Summers in Missoula I had a plot at a community garden near the university, but it was too far from my apartment and the weeding became overwhelming due to infrequent visits and my busy early twenties social calendar.  Jeff and I also attempted a garden a few years ago, but it was half hearted, and not the right timing either.

Our garden project didn't come without lots of hard work.  Starting with the sod cutting we did just before Easter...

In the beginning this garden was quite a bone of contention between my husband and me, I'll admit it.  He just tends to be more realistic about the amount of time and energy it will take to actually get something done.  I usually jump in with both feet, learning the details of what I've signed up for, along the way, and rolling with it.  My method works for me, but I'm happy that Jeff is the yin to my yang, and there is always that balance when we work together on something.  Yeah, that's what it is, balance, not disharmony, right? he he he!

Astrid had so much fun collecting earth worms in April and early May.

Our giant sushi rolls.  We were able to give most of the sod away.

 We found that we could work with Astrid as long as one of us was  keeping her busy lugging tiny bits of sod, fiddling with the garden tools, digging for worms and other bugs, and taking frequent breaks.  We worked best during nap time every afternoon of almost every weekend in May.

All tired out and fast asleep during an Eko Compost run.

It's hard to find good help these days.

Astrid got some gardening tools from the "Easter Bunny" (aka. Grandma).  These were great worm collecting tools.

We decided on what we wanted for boxes and our talented friend Wilson (with some help from Jeff) constructed these beauties.
Beautiful cedar garden boxes.

Astrid painted while I worked on securing the weed mat and leveling the garden boxes.

We added the arbor from our wedding day, and of course, the garden soil.
Next, we went shopping for seeds and some starts.  What a fun rainy day, putting back every other plant she arbitrarily grabbed off the shelves during her "spree" style shopping.

Just planted.

It has become a ritual in our home many mornings a week that Astrid and I wander out to the garden sometimes still groggy in our pjs to see what might have grown overnight.  I am a child, and everyday with this garden seems like a new and unexpected gift.  For the first time I realize, in my own skin, the pride you can have in a garden. 

I entirely understand the unsolicited tours Dad would give family and friends to his garden down back.  It was quite possible that you couldn't come to Mom and Dad's farm without a ritualistic walk down the hill to the garden.

I remember vividly Dad's expansive garden in our back yard when I was a child...   One year Grammy Madgie (Dad's Mom) gave us kids some sunflowers to grow, and it was like magic to me that the flowers dwarfed me by the end of the Summer. 

Mom and Dad also had perennial gardens in the side yard that were a real conversation piece at any sort of Summer gathering.
Three days after planting - radish sprouts!

"Radish sprouts are kinda spicy, Mama!"

Astrid checking out the first sprouts in her garden box.

Our garden and pots this afternoon:

Another tomato almost ripe.  Astrid, who doesn't normally like tomatoes, plucked one off this plant a couple weeks ago and devoured it in one bite.

Carrots, raddishes, parsley, basil, peppers, zucchini, squash, etc.
Corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, snap peas, pole beans.
The corn was knee high by the 4th of July. So, that's good, right?

Snap peas.  Today I noticed that there are mini pods all over.  Can't wait to see how big they are tomorrow morning.

Pole beans.

And, last but not least, Astrid's garden:  She got the pink flamingoes from Grandma and Grandpa for her birthday last month, and our next door neighbor (Gini) gave her a third one, because three is even more fun than two!  I'm thinking that these sunflowers need an even sunnier spot next season.

The flamingos and the deer fabric/fencing help to keep away the deer in the evenings.  Jeff and I have seen them linger by sniffing the air with desire.

There is more to do, and this is an ongoing project.  Staining the arbor, covering the weed mat, fencing around the entire garden, and more, but right now, we are certainly enjoying every minute of our highly experimental project.

Here are some pictures of my Gardening Angel.  Oh, how I wish he and Mom were here to consult over a cup of tea.  Mom will be here in October!  Maybe she can help me ready it for winter.

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