Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Gardening Hootenanny and a Flower Bed

Week of March 8 through 14

The Parents came into town for a visit this weekend and we had so much fun! We originally planned for their visit knowing that my mom would be coming to town for a bridal shower. But, when we realized that our parents could be coerced into manual labor, we knew that this weekend would also be the perfect time to build our garden.

My dad has the greenest thumb. He inherited it from my grandparents, who have the biggest garden plot I've ever seen. Sadly, I think the emerald-phalange genetics skipped me, though I did inherit the crazy. Having a backyard garden was inspired by my dad's natural ability to coax vegetation from the earth. Growing up, we always had squash and tomatoes and blackberries from the backyard plot that my dad lovingly tended. It seemed only natural to me that when The Husband and I finally had a yard of our own, we would plant our own garden.

For the last month we have been in the final, serious, planning and preparation stages for the installation of our garden in our backyard. We've done our research: picking out the best location, the best plant varieties and the best soil for our area. We also spent a day driving around our neighborhood to determine what kind of retaining walls we liked, and what kind we didn't (ahem...the lip on those concrete landscaping bricks is supposed to go down). After determining that we liked the rock wall l
ook (and why wouldn't we, since it was the most expensive option) we chose a pallet of moss rock at our local landscaping supplier and arranged to have it delivered. We were all set for our Gardening Hootenanny (with free labor!)... then it started raining.

Since the beginning of the year our area had gotten a total of 2 inches of rain, over 8 inches behind the average for this time of year. As the weekend approached, the skies darkened, the temperature dropped and the meteorologists began predicting drizzle and rain for the entire weekend. And over the weekend we had carefully and thoughtfully set aside for our garden, no less! Still, we were not going to allow this to deter the hootenanny-ness of our hootenanny.

The 1.5 tons of stone we ordered was delivered via bobcat to our driveway on Saturday morning. I asked the delivery driver if he wouldn't mind just driving it on back into our backyard for us and he just grinned. I think maybe he had heard that a few times before. Meanwhile, The Husband drove off into the rain with a trailer to pick up 2 cubic yards of some kind of special soil.

Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle...

The Parents and I ventured into the backyard, and after much deliberation, staked out the plot for our garden. It so happens that the spot in our yard posing the least grass resistance was also located between the two sad, lonely and haphazardly positioned plants that existed in our yard when we moved in. While my dad tried to rescue the few lone patches of grass that would soon be covered by our garden (to fill in the bare patches in our poor, sad lawn), my mom and I loaded up the wheelbarrow with stones and started shuttling them from the front to the back of the house.

Sprinkle, drizzle, sprinkle...

My dad, expert stone stacker that he is, had the front wall built three courses high by the time I loosened my mom's shackles and allowed her to stop toiling long enough to get ready for her shower. I continued to move stone, and Dad kept stacking, and occasionally breaking, stone (think: chain gang in a old prison movie). I think he enjoyed breaking the stone with the sledgehammer a little bit too much. In his defense, though, some of the stones did need to be broken in order to make a stable stack, but the determination of which stones those were was a bit willy-nilly. Soon, The Husband's Parents arrived to lend a hand (and some tools) and shortly after that, we had all four walls of the garden built.

Sprinkle, rain, rain...

The Husband returned with the soil just as we were finishing the walls in the backyard. Thanks to The Husband's Parents, we had an extra shovel, an extra wheelbarrow and two extra people to help us haul the stinky, compost rich soil to the garden. Little by little, The Husband, my MIL, FIL and I filled the wheelbarrows and then the menfolk hauled them into the backyard and dumped them into the garden.

Rain, rain, pour...

When the garden was full, we still had about a quarter of a trailer full of soil. We also had some left over stones. Even though we were all wet and tired, and the rain had really started coming down, we decided to take on the front flower bed. (Bonus project! Order now and we'll include some rain absolutely free!) We laid out a garden hose to mark the shape of the bed, and then my dad and MIL dug out a shallow trench while The Husband and I followed behind, filling it in with stones.

One would think this would be a much easier task, since it was certainly smaller. But, I'm an organized, anal retentive, methodical planner, who needs to think things out before making a decision, and since I hadn't even considered the possibility of tackling the flower bed, my crazy started showing. As the project progressed, all of our lovely assistants were thoughtfully asking me if I liked how it was looking. I think this might have been because at one point during the construction of the garden, when my dad asked The Husband if he was happy with the progress thus far, I said, "He doesn't care what it looks like, as long as it grows tomatoes, I'm the one who approves aesthetics around here." Thus, my approval was needed on the front flower bed, quickly, before everyone gave up and went inside where it was dry. And my head nearly exploded from the power/unplanned disorder of it all.

No sooner had we placed the last rock, than it started raining in sheets. Thankfully, we were finished, sadly, everyone would later die of pneumonia.

The next morning, we visited our local nursery to pick out vegetables for our garden and plants for our front bed. We still needed expert advice on plant selection, though, so we requested that the king of all things agricultural help us. Of course, it was still raining, and the nursery is not covered. In true royal style, my dad stood under the only dry overhang at the nursery, while we ran out into the rain and grabbed flats of different plant varieties for his perusal. The king then decreed which plants were the best specimens, all the while staying perfectly dry.

Drizzle, rain, drizzle...

We spent the afternoon ducking in and out of the house, avoiding the downpours, and planting our garden and flower bed in the drizzle. We planted tomatoes, bell peppers, yellow squash and beans in the back. Then we designed our front flower bed with shrubs, begonias and impatiens. We got dirty, and wet, and we got some invaluable garden advice from my dad. And we finally got our garden finished. Over the weekend of our Gardening Hootenanny, our area received 2.5 inches of rain. We got more rain while we were outside working in the yard than we had previously gotten all year!

We are so excited about how everything turned out. It is more than what we were even hoping for. We can see our garden when we wake up every morning, and we love it. We can't wait for our first harvest!

We truly could not have accomplished what we did without the help of our families. We are so grateful that they live close by, and that they were willing to give up their weekend to stand in the rain and deliberate over each and every stone placement with us. Everyone worked so hard, and we are so appreciative of the effort and energy they put in to help turn our dreams of a garden into a reality.

When we were looking for a house, we knew that we wanted something with a lot of space and an open kitchen so that there would always be room for company. We really enjoy having all of our family together at our house, and we wanted to have a comfortable gathering place for everyone. This weekend was one of those times when we felt so grateful for what have. Our family, all together, cozy in front of the fire, spending peaceful time together in our happy home. Perfect.

All Around Our House Next Week: Transplanting our Herb Garden and Bikes

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like all of you had so much fun! When can I give you the pleasure of cleaning my gutters and installing a new gate in my back yard?