Spent some time getting my hands dirty over the Mother’s Day weekend.
Apparently, the annual celebration of maternity is also the perfect time to get in touch with Mother Nature, at least if you’re a gardener.
My green thumb fell off sometime around my early teenage years, when I was no longer required to maintain (or maybe just stopped doing it) a vegetable patch among the vast expanse of gardens on my parents’ hobby farm, which I was partially responsible for keeping weed-free.
The hobby farm also boasted a considerable (for 10 acres) menagerie of farm animals, most memorable being the incessantly bleating goats, whose milk and meat fed my upbringing for a number of years.
While still my parents’ homestead for most of the year, the animals are now absent and the gardens, all but a small postage stamp plot, have since returned to grass or other non-garden states.
Which is about the same process as my limited knowledge of how to garden. It’s long past having gone to seed.
Until my girlfriend and I began to cohabitate, my cute little character house was plant-free, not because of any dislike of foliage and greenery (green is my favourite colour, by the way), but because simply keeping plants alive seemed an arduous and insurmountable challenge.
The only exception to that rule was at my previous home, where a rose bush that supposedly required loving care and attention to flourish apparently sensed immediately it would not be getting such conditions from its new owner and proceeded to bloom with abandon despite the rigorous inattention it received.
Alas, after settling in a few years ago, a few tomato plants were placed in containers in the backyard with less than moderate success, not surprising given the level of interest put into learning how to bring them to fruit – i.e. none.
Two years ago was somewhat more successful and somewhat more ambitious, as a small garden bed was sown with lettuce and peas, and last year even more ambitious, adding peppers and cucumber and zucchini to the mix.
This year, with two of us tending the garden – both of us equally hopeful and similarly inept with vegetables, but also making more effort to reacquire the skills once inherent in most average citizens – a bounty of produce is expected.
As I wrote in this space last summer, I’m starting to appreciate the satisfaction of producing at least a miniscule portion of my own food.
Walking through town, I find myself lingering past other backyard gardens, spying over what was planted and where, trying to soak in some additional idea of how better to make things grow and yield something edible.
I also find myself looking back and wishing I’d paid better attention as a youngster, when my parents were attempting to teach us a thing or three about living more self-sufficiently.
Ah, the blissful ignorance of youth.
A similar regret previously popped up about my dad’s mantra regarding the workings of an internal combustion engine, repeated whenever he had me as (usually disinterested) helper as he performed regular vehicle maintenance and repairs.
Not surprisingly, that revelation came about around the same time my first vehicle starting acting temperamental. Fortunately, dear old dad continued to offer his considerable expertise and assistance once I decided I really did need the knowledge he was trying to impart.
Mom is now doing much the same when it comes to the small agricultural endeavour taking place in my backyard. Though I’ve not leaned on her wealth of knowledge much yet, she ought to be preparing herself for questions.
If nothing else, it gives reason to make more frequent phone calls to touch base. Perhaps it’s fitting that would be the harvest of a Mother’s Day planting ritual.