Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Plotting for a Garden

My new garden patch is 3 feet by 8 feet.

"Wide enough for a small casket," my mom said ruefully staring down at the soil.

I stood up straight to stretch my back and looked down at my pathetic little patch of dirt. It had taken me all morning just to tear up the grass and prepare the soil for planting. Four hours of work had given me enough space to bury a body.

I walked over to the cottage and looked at the plants I’d picked up from the market the day before. I counted 29 plants. Four tomato plants, four kinds of herbs, six bean plants, six broccoli plants, four lettuce plants, four corn plants and a cantaloupe vine. I smiled at my overzealousness. There was no way all the plants were going to fit into my little garden plot.

I returned from Ghana Friday night and after the enthusiastic welcome of friends and family, was anxious to get to the cottage to plant a garden. I’d been inspired by Filipina and her corn field in Accra and vowed that I would have my very own personal garden this summer.

Early Saturday morning, I went to the garden center in Hampton to check out their vegetable plants. To have a garden this summer, I would have to skip some corners – it was way too late to plant seeds so I’d have to jump right to the plant stage. I knew that all of Filipina’s plants had come from seed, but this was the only way my garden had a chance of succeeding.

I hungrily eyed the various plants, and selected those that I thought might save me some money at the end of the summer. I also selected corn because I wanted to reap my crop at the same time Filipina would harvest hers in Accra at the end of August.

Arriving at the cottage I surveyed the property for a good piece of land with lots of sun exposure. I settled on a patch behind the cottage. Armed with a pitch fork, a hoe and pair of gloves, I went to work.

Despite the unusually cold July 1st weekend, I started to sweat. It was hard work. My back ached, and the plot seemed to grow at an incredibly slow pace. I stopped to rest and enlisted the help of my 2-year-old niece. Her job was to pick the rocks out of the soil and put them in a basket. Eager to help, she was a diligent worker. Time marched on.

At noon time, I decided to quit. My garden patch was small, but I didn’t have the energy to tear up any more of the lawn. I stuffed all of the plants into my little garden. Even though the instructions on the packages said they needed more room to grow, I decided that they’d have to share the space. In went all of the plants.

Standing back and assessing my work I laughed out loud. This was definitely a pathetic middle class garden. It wouldn’t feed even one person let alone an entire family.

Filipina would have scoffed at my effort. Every day when I’d walk home from work I would notice that her garden had grown by a few meters, but I never stopped to think how much effort she must have put into preparing her beds. She had transformed an entire grassy field into a flourishing garden with over 200 corn plants. It must have taken her weeks to complete.

I have to admit that even though my garden is small, I’m quite intrigued by it. Over the next few weeks I will tend to it, carefully alert to any predators that might attempt to sabotage my plants.

At the end of the summer when Filipina is harvesting her corn, I also hope to have a small crop. Her labour will feed her family for a few months. I’m hoping mine will help me prepare a nice welcome home dinner for Mark. I sure hope he likes broccoli.

- Janet


Anonymous said...

Hi Janet,
We are very impressed how efficient you are at getting your garden started. Mark will certainly be glad to come home to fresh vegetables.Perhaps we can exchange some of Frank's flowers for some of your veggies.
Cheers, Prissy and Frank

Janet & Mark in Ghana said...

I would be happy to exchange flowers for veggies. I went to the cottage to check on the plants, and something ate the top off two broccoli plants and a tomato plant. Mark may have to settle for a dinner with fresh herbs.