The last time I planted a garden was about 1998. We lived in a very local neighborhood, in a two-story pink house, the second pink house that we built. In the side yard was a nice protected spot with lots of sun. I worked for days on prepping the ground, buying the perfect plants, and creating a productive garden in a very small space.
When it was time for tomatoes to be harvested, as well as the corn, I went out one morning and the entire garden had been attacked. All of the tomatoes had their bottoms eaten out (rats, I guess, as there are no tortoises in Maui) and/or stung by some obnoxious insect, the corn had been infested with worms, and the sweet potatoes had been hollowed out and families of mice had moved in. One mama mouse ran out of the hole I was digging and scared the daylights out of me and left all these pink babies that had to be disposed of!
Stunned, I decided I would support small farmers, and give up gardening. After all, small business needed support and these farmers were much more prepared than me to deal with all of the issues with agriculture.
Until my friend here in Fayetteville asked me if I might be interested in gardening in the plot of land in front of her property. She has two plots and they were a lot of work for one person. My first thought was NO! If I could not grow a garden in a place like Maui, what chance would I have of being successful here in Arkansas?
Remembering and relating the last gardening episode, I thought again that small farmers need our support! And we do have a lovely farmer’s market on the square in Fayetteville. My Aunt Emma and I frequented the market every Saturday last year. Reason tried to tell me that there is probably no way I can raise the food, and preserve it, for the $20-$40 I spent each week at the market. That $20-$40 supplied a week’s worth of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces, flowers, and numerous other vegetables to grace our table.
But I kept going back to the idea and mulling over the possibilities. Then I started sketching out the garden. Measuring off the beds (this garden has been well taken care of with composting and cultivation), listing vegetables our family would enjoy and eat regularly, and finally creating the drawing that helped me visualize this space in the future. As you can see from the photo, there is a lot of work to be done.
Another motivating factor is my dislike of exercise, as in working out with weights and having a regiment. I know that gardening is an especially good activity to keep fit. Articles on what is going into our foods, with all their graphic details and disgusting ingredients listed, adds incentive for gardening. The high cost of food also makes me think it is a good idea, and motivates me to keep my costs down to make this garden as economical as possible. The fact that my friend has a renovated pool in the backyard makes the prospect even more inviting. Ice tea, or cold beer, a dip in the pool, visiting with her and my family after a productive day in the garden–heaven.
However, and this I just realized as I was writing this post, the biggest motivator is I like projects. I am happiest when I have a huge project to plan, implement and bring to fruition. And there is nothing to compare to plucking a tomato off of your vine, sprinkling it with salt and eating it sitting in a chair under a shade tree while viewing your wonderful garden!