Monday, July 15, 2013

A garden

I’m going to be getting my hands dirty, and I’m excited about it.
Larry and I are planning to build raised beds in our backyard for a vegetable garden next year. We’ve walked the yard and decided where to put it. We’ve talked about size and design. We’ve discussed dirt. We’ve considered how to keep the wildlife from eating everything in it.
We’re making plans for a garden.

Site for our raised beds. Larry's shop and a tool shed are in the background.

At one time, I never could have written those words and been happy about them. I was so consumed by fears of contamination that I engaged in compulsive hand washing that left my hands and wrists red and raw. I avoided anything that might get my hands dirty, including garden dirt.
My fear of contamination was rampant when I was a teenager and young adult. Over the years, with treatment for OCD, my fears have greatly subsided.
I’ve even had flower gardens and potted plants. I enjoyed working in the dirt and watching plants grow.
So why haven’t I taken the next step and put in a garden before now? I grew up on a farm, after all. My parents put in a garden every year, usually a huge one. They always planted extra in case neighbors or family didn’t have a good year.

My parents' garden on their farm in rural Virginia in 1985.


Another view of my parents' garden, circa 1985.


My parents' garden in 1988.

Larry and I have talked about putting in a garden. One year we even grew tomato plants. Unfortunately, the deer and groundhogs ate all but a few of them.
What has really kept us from moving forward has been my reluctance to commit to it. One way depression affects me is to drain every bit of motivation out of me. I become married to just a few activities that don’t take a lot of energy and don’t ask too much of me.
Even when depression is treated with medication and therapy, old habits of procrastination and complacency die hard.
But this year of contemplating “letting go” has led me to want to do more, to not waste time.
So along with getting good treatment for my depression, I’ve been making more of an effort to do things.

Unbeknownst to me, Larry started researching raised beds. He began thinking how he could build the frame, how he could build a fence around it. A couple of weeks ago, he broached the subject to me and since then, the ideas have been percolating.
We’ll build it this summer or early fall, then nurture the soil to get it ready for next spring. I’ll have to do some research to figure out what to plant and when to plant things.
Having a garden to care for will be a challenge for me. I will have to work in it whether or not I feel like it.
But I know it will also give me a sense of accomplishment. It will give me a much-needed connection to nature. And it will give Larry and me fresh produce to eat and share with others.

Do you have a garden? If so, do you grow flowers, vegetables or both? What do you enjoy the most about having one?


42 comments:

  1. Oh I sure understand the loss of motivation, and the stubborn habits of depression that stick with you even once you are feeling better. I really struggle with that all the time. It's very frustrating.

    I'm glad you're looking forward to such a productive and creative project. I hope it ends up providing hours and hours of fun (and great produce!) for you and Larry.

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    1. Thanks so much for your understanding comment, Sunny.

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  2. I think this is awesome and will be a wonderful thing Tina. And yes, it will give you a tremendous sense of accomplishment! Raising a garden is a sense of pride for a lot of people. I love that 1985 picture by the way.

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    1. Thanks, Keith. My parents plants long rows of crops. The rows seemed endless when I was picking peas, green beans, etc. :-)

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  3. Tina -- I can hear the excitement in your post and I think it's awesome this is something you and your hubby can do together. xo

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. I am excited. And I think it will be fun to have a project to work on with Larry. He'll be the chief builder of the platforms--I'll just be a helper in that part. :-)

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  4. that is awesome! with all the bloggers who garden and do raised beds and even straw bale gardening, i've considered it. i've never gotten used to the early and late growing seasons in texas compared to my summers in wisconsin. but i'm so glad you're going to do it!

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    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Theresa. I can imagine that Texas and Wisconsin have very different growing seasons! I used to know more about Virginia's seasons than I do now. I am going to have to relearn a lot.

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  5. I hope you love it! and it is so rewarding to eat from your own back/ front yard!!

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    1. Thank you, Deanna. I remember the photos of the beautiful veggies you grew in your garden. I'm looking forward to doing that!

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  6. My husband tends the garden and I do the eating!

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    1. Sharon, that sounds like a nice division of labor! :-) I'm actually looking forward to getting my hands dirty.

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  7. I hope you enjoy this new venture!

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  8. We've had gardens in the past, but not for a few years now. I find there's nothing more satisfying than spending that quiet time in nature, getting your hands dirty......so glad you are taking on this project!

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    1. Thanks, Janet. I think it will be good for me physically and mentally. And it will be good for our diets if we grow and eat the fresh veggies!

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  9. and I used to think my parents had a big garden, lol! I have had gardens in the past, at the moment we have flowers, bushes and a few trees in a pretty confined inter village garden, my hubby is growing radishes and rhubarb...isn't Larry wonderful and I applaud you all of your personal homework and your spirit to keep improving, you'll have such a wonderful time gardening and just think of the meals!

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. I enjoy radishes. It's been a long time since I've eaten rhubarb. I'll probably start out with some easy things.

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  10. Gardens and animals are great therapy, Tina! I do not have a garden of my own, but I love to visit them in nature parks, as you know. Nature is so good for depression, and walking in nature is even better. The more I do this, along with trying to eat plenty of fruits and veggies and drinking lots of water, the better I feel.

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    1. Thank you, Linda. It sounds like you are doing some very healthy things for yourself. I need to eat more fruits and veggies myself, and I definitely need to drink more water. I enjoy your photos from your nature walks--they're really lovely.

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  11. sorry i think I should clarify that by inter village garden I meant, we live in an old medieval village behind our own privacy wall with a small bit of garden terrace area... inter village means nothing at all does it!

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    1. That's OK, Lynn. I think it's a great phrase to describe where you live.

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  12. Wow, you've had some amazing healing! Congratulations on taking this next step!

    As you know from reading my blog, I have a big garden. This morning I harvested peas, blueberries, and tomatoes. In addition to the vegetable garden, I have terraces with flowers (that's new to me), and fruit trees in the front yard. It's a lot of work, but a great source of wonder. I tend to feel out of sorts if I don't go into the garden at all.

    I will pass along some advice I was given when I took a gardening course: start small and build from there. At my previous home, I had a tiny yard, so I was forced to take that advice, and it served me well. It allows you to get acquainted with a few plants at a time, learning what they need and when.

    Best of luck! Welcome to the green side.

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    1. Thanks, Nadine. I like that: welcome to the green side!

      You have so much knowledge of gardening--I know I will be asking you for advice along the way. :-) Peas, blueberries and tomatoes--three of my favorites!

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  13. I'm not a gardener. I've always been disappointed in the results when I've tried it. But my father was a great gardener and I have always admired people who are successful at it. It's just not for me. Looking forward to seeing your results!

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    1. Thanks Barbara. It's not for everyone, and that's OK. We're going to keep it small and not have the gigantic gardens our parents had.

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  14. If you built them now you could have a few fall crops like lettuce kale broccoli and garlic (plant in ffall harvestnext summer for the garlic). We enjoyed having summer garden salads all the way into december last year. I planted early august.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. I wondered about that, but hadn't looked up what I could plant now. I would love to try some broccoli, especially. Once Larry gets an idea in his mind about doing something like this, he's anxious to start. So we might be able to put in some fall crops.

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  15. Hurray!!! A GARDEN . . . Lucky, lucky lady. i am so entirely happy for you.

    To answer your question, yes the yard here grows beautiful things and i enjoy it - AND - I go as often as possible to our Botanical Garden (one of my favorite places here) and enjoy . . everything, i suppose.

    Happy Day to You, Garden Lady!
    -g-

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    1. Thank you, G. I would love to have a Botanical Garden nearby. I think I would visit quite often, too!

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  16. Oh I am so excited for you I think gardening skills are genetic so I am positive you are going to do great according to those lovely photos of your parents garden farm. Nothing like getting your hands dirty to make you forget your troubles. I can't find my garden for the weeds:) B

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    1. Thanks, B. I hope the skills are genetic, or that I learn fast! :-)

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  17. Oh this is fabulous Tina! I'm so happy for you. :). You will feel even better once you start working in your garden. You'll be focused and it will be a wonderful kind of meditation! You'll see! We have a green house out back, and it was so key for me in helping to lessen (by a lot) my anxiety.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. When I've worked in the dirt before, I noticed how it was meditative. I'm looking forward to experiencing that again!

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  18. this is a wonderful entry tina....let's see, where do i start?? flowers. every year of my adult life, i have had flower gardens. each year i would add a new one, to accommodate all the flowers i would see at the garden center. ones i did not have yet!! i probably have 30 flower gardens within our 1 acre of land. lots of perennials and each year i add more and lots of annuals. this summer, i did not plant one flower :(

    i also always have a vegtable garden, in large pots on the deck. peppers, tomatoes, cucs, herbs, squash.....you can grow most anything in a pot!! this year, i planted.....nothing. i had a rough spring and never got to it. with all this heat, i am a little happy i didn't!! just a little!!

    good luck with yours, i love to garden and i especially enjoy the fresh veggies!!

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    1. Thanks, Debbie. It sounds like you know your way around a garden! It's wonderful to be surrounded by flowers and other growing things.

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  19. That is so much fun! Can't wait to hear about how your garden grows. :) I've been interested in gardening for about a year, but have just got around to planting. I've got some flourishing basil, pumpkin seedlings, and waiting on some zinnias to pop up. Planning carrots and spinach for fall!

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    1. Thanks, Anna. I'm glad you're doing some planting, too! I bet that basil smells good.

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  20. When I was first married 30+ years ago, we lived in a little townhouse with a VERY small backyard. My husband, who always grew up with vegetable gardens, decided we should plant a raised bed veggie garden. Sounded good to me. Haha...the amount of time and money we put in to creating that raised patch (which was waaaaaay too big for the yard, I'm sure the neighbors HATED us)!!!! I figured that each salad cost us $50 :)

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  21. Kathy, I chuckled at the thought of such an expensive salad! I hope ours won't cost that much. Larry already has some of the boards for the frame. But I can see how it can get expensive!

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  22. I would love to have a vegetable garden. I've been pinning information about raised garden beds... Someday, I'll make the commitment. It's wonderful you've been able to go from compulsive hand washing to gardening! This is very exciting!

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    1. Thank you, Karen. It's been a long journey, but I'm so grateful to be where I'm at now. I love that you're pinning info about raised gardens. Maybe you'll be doing this before too long! :-)

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