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Gardening is all the rage these days. Everyone wants to plant some plants and dig in the dirt and harvest bucket loads of fresh veggies to feast off of all summer long and there are plenty of people out there who are successful at it. Really, anyone can be successful at it, but there is something all of those books and blogs and magazine articles don’t tell you. Gardening is hard work.
Physical. Manual. Back-breaking. Work.
One of my projects ( aside from unpacking) has been to get a garden set-up and planted. We moved right at planting time so I have been scrambling to get raised beds built and filled with dirt and seeds started and plants planted. “What’s the big rush?” you ask. Well, early spring is the time to get many plants in the ground before the searing summer heat scorches young and tender plants and to give the plants plenty of time to mature before the end of the season. Plus, it’s more fun than unpacking.
So I spent the morning building the second raised bed for my garden. First, I had to level out the plot since it has a bit of a slope. Twenty minutes later, I had pulled two blisters and cleared and dug out a 4′ x 8′ garden plot. Then, I went for lumber ( 4 – 1x6x8 untreated boards). I came back and wrestled with lumpy dirt, wasps, sun, a 15 year-old who was “helping”, and a hand full of garden stakes. A few stubborn screws, a handful of nails and a blood blister later, I had the most rickety-looking raised bed in the country side. But it doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to hold dirt. Right? Right.
Then I went to check on my seedlings this afternoon only to realize that I had forgotten to water them this morning and they were looking pretty sad. Sad and miserable. I watered frantically praying over the little sprouts to perk up and get better. All I could think was,”I’m a mother for God’s sakes! I should do better than this! ”
Please little cucumber plants, perk up. I promise I will water religiously.
It was at this point that I thought about the people 100 years ago, 50 years ago, even today, who’s lives depended upon growing a garden successfully. And not just a couple 4’x8′ plots, but whole fields full of food with just a donkey, a plow, a hoe and a lot of faith. One day of forgetting to water your seedlings and your family’s livelihood is down the drain. One late frost or bad flood and your family faces starvation. Can you imagine? Can you imagine not being able to just run and buy some tomatoes if your plants die, or go buy a sack full of potatoes if the groundhogs ate yours?
Even today’s small time farmer’s, the one’s you find at farmer’s markets and roadside stands, have their work cut out for them. Not only do they have to farm the land but they have to compete with the grocery store prices and the farmer in the booth next to him and they have pulled more blisters, gotten more sunburns, and shed more blood over their fields than I will ever shed over my 8×8 plot.
Needless to say, I have a new found respect for my food. I stand in awe over my garden salad or my can of green beans because as I grasp my fork to eat, I can feel the sting of the blisters on my hands, sweat on my brow, and dirt under my fingernails and know exactly how hard someone worked to put that food on my table.