When we first move here and build our little back-woods house. I had a 40 foot by 40 foot vegetable garden out back. A neighbor had come over with his big earth mover (big for me anyway - probably tiny by out-in-the-world standards). Anyway, he came over and shoved some stumps out of the yard creating the little pond out front. He also widened our trail down to the boats (there were a couple places where our little three-wheeler ATV would rub it's wheels on the trees, not tight but still a rub).
It being my first summer here, I had started clearing a row for a garden, figuring that during the course of the summer, I might be able to get another one or two cleared and ready for the next year. I guess he saw me hacking away at the alders with a machete and an axe, and then with a pick to get the roots up. Our neighbor came over to where I was and set his blade on the ground, just at surface level and four passes later I had a huge garden bed all cleared and ready for turning up and boxing into rows.
With a book of Square Foot Gardening in hand, I made use of the left over slabs from milling the lumber for our house, I ended up with 8 rows each 4-foot wide, with two-foot isles between, and by coincidence, they ended up being 40 feet long. Accidentally perfectly square - I was thrilled. I grew carrots, beets, rutabagas, with satisfying success. I also used up 4 rows with potatoes with great success at first but diminishing since. Another row was devoted to bush zucchini and other summer squash. Then there were bush beans in another row. Spinach and lettuce in another row. I even tried broccoli and cauliflower. I was in gardening heaven.
Then I got work out on the river. We needed the money. My efforts to feed us only covered part of our bill. So I'd go to work all day, and then come home and head directly out to the garden to try to keep it weeded (a full time job by itself). But then, after an hour if I was lucky, my husband would come get me asking to come help entertain our guests. Sigh - well, with me there, conversation could be at about the level of a two year old rather than an infant, and my husband had been dealing with him all day. You see, he was very German. He knew a few English words, probably better than my German, but my husband couldn't speak any and horribly mispronounced what he could say. I'd taken German in high school, and tried to take more in college, but quit when I realized I just couldn't remember the vocabulary. I was okay with grammer and spelling, mostly, and I could follow a conversation by gist if not specifics, but actually carrying on a conversation was beyond me - I simply didn't have the words. So, with this guy (bless his heart) I tried to be something of a translater/go-between in the conversation. I was not very good at it, but it served to pass the evening.
Next day, it was the same routine, so my garden began to deteriorate quickly. I planted less and less each year until finally giving up. My boss offered that I could order supplies through the same companies they ordered their food, and she would take the cost out of my paycheck. It would save us trips to town costing airfare, taxis and motel costs - a huge savings for us. So, I gave up on my garden, much to my dismay and sadness.
A couple years ago, my son and daughter-in-law were staying out here and they decided they wanted to plant potatoes back there. Back to the pick, machete, and axe, but he's a big boy and he had three rows cleared in only a couple days. He was sure dirty and sweaty when he came in after working out there.
So what's all this about?
Guess what I decided to do today?
Mother's day of all days
Have you guessed yet?
Yeah, I took a stroll this afternoon just assessing the yard and such. Still too much snow, and where there's no snow, it's still really soggy. My stroll ended up back at my long neglected garden. For lack of something more constructive to do, and since I did buy some new seeds this year, and since it looks like I won't have much work out on the river this year, if ever again. I went to the woodshed and got my tiller-rake. That's a four-toothed tiller on a long rake-like handle. I have a little three-pronged thing I can use for closer, easier work. This long handled thing is really handy for raking dead cane out of raspberry bushes and other such things since it combs through long stuff really well. My goal - to rake last year's dead canes and such off at least one row. Also, a couple years ago we dropped a spruce tree across my garden so there were all those branches to clear away too.
That sounds simple enough, but then I decided to cut the elder bushes away from the edge to make it easier to rake - branches were hanging over where I was trying to rake. Out of breath anyway, I took a trip to the house for the hand saw.
That project evolved into locating the chicken wire I had once kept around my garden. You see, I used to also have chickens, ducks and geese, and given the opportunity they were always back in the garden as opposed to anywhere else. I haven't had them for five years now so the fence posts have almost all rotted off at ground level and the fencing had been crushed down by snow. There was also a really heavy wired fence I'd teepee'd down one row for peas to climb once upon a time back when. That worked fine, but without being able to weed, my harvest was pitiful. When my son cleared the row, he tossed that aside - it was useless for potatoes. Anyway, I found that, and I found the fencing. It was one of those things I've always wanted to do and never really having the time or energy to do it. The best time being like now, before anything really starts to grow. Some of it is still frozen down, but with luck I'll be able to move it all tomorrow, then I'll drag it out into the yard where I can straighten it out and roll it up.
My mother's day accomplishment - lots of raking (for a first time in a while). Branches cleared and crap raked off of one row. Two stretches (40 or so feet long each) mostly loosened up and pulled free. Boy am I pooped.
My plans for tomorrow - Maybe another row raked but maybe not - still snow there. But at least I will be cutting more alder bushes away from another fence line. If I can't clear that second row, I'll be trying to free up another stretch of chicken wire at least. In the process, I hope to find a rhubarb plant and a chives patch I used to have back there. I'm curious to see if they survived the neglect.
Progressive plans - whether I plant them all or not (I doubt it) I intend to rake off the entire patch and find all that chicken wire. I've been wanting to do it for years - now is the time.
Anyone wanna come help?