Monday, May 10, 2004

Plantin' time blog.

Violent weather around the Midwest yesterday, or so I heard. In my little corner of the region, we got sun and clouds in a varying mix, some brisk winds, and exceptionally fine warmth, all day, from beginning to end. Only toward the end of the day did we get any rain, and that only a cloudburst. Not so different from Saturday, really, with the addition of that cloudburst.

On Saturday I tilled a rectangle of earth in our back yard that's clearly been used by previous owners as a garden. So it was; so it is again. Besides its garden-like shape, and a dearth of grass, the other clue that it was a garden plot is a wire fence, in some disrepair, that surrounds it. I'm not sure that the fence will be any good at keeping animals out, but I am sure that it will keep 15-month-old Ann out. So I repaired the fence to the best of my meager mechanical abilities, and tilled the ground inside with a Hound Dog brand pronged implement, a solid metal device. Four prongs in an almost swastika-like array, with me grasping the top end; insert in ground, twist. Worked pretty well.

But, as I was tilling my own land, communing with my agrarian ancestors, feeling the good earth, etc., it occurred to me that a good reason for someone like me (an office worker) to keep a garden is to remind me I'm not a subsistence farmer, and glad of it. Very glad. You don’t have to be out in the sun grinding the earth long to understand why farmers all over the world hightail it to the cities, even to third-world pestholes.

I'm not quite a garden novice, though my brother Jim’s experience in these matters dwarfs mine. He's been keeping a garden in San Antonio for decades now. Yuriko and I had some tomatoes at our previous back yard, though there really wasn't enough sun for them. In the late '80s, I helped a friend in the suburbs maintain his garden, visiting just often enough to participate in the whole cycle. But this is our first garden of any size, and the first one I will see day-to-day.

I planted on Sunday. Corn, carrots, okra, squash, plus an assortment of herbs like basil, and some Japanese vegetables whose names I forget. I know most of this should grow, but I look at the plot and think, nothing's going to grow. The seeds were phonies. It'll quit raining until August, and the village will ban irrigation. Romans sowed salt in my yard. I won't really believe it until something comes up.


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