Sunday, May 29, 2011

Resolutions as Seedlings...they take a while to grow.

A Suburban Greenmom ponders change, growth, and self-improvement…

This month’s Green Mom’s Carnival topic is “half-year resolutions.”
I think it’s brilliant.
January is such a dreary month, and after all the holiday craziness all I really want to do is collapse not decide to make huge life changes. But spring? Springtime just begs for new life, new plans, new changes. In springtime, you can do anything.
Okay, the reality is that the springtime resolutions tend to go about as well and as quickly as the winter ones…but somehow the ones I make in springtime are the ones that tend to stick. They hang on, they don’t go away. Maybe it’s because I associate spring with gardening, and gardening isn’t about making giant changes and suddenly having everything be Finished And Done. Spring is about working your butt off and then having to wait and wait and work more and wait and tend and wait and then eventually you might have a harvest. If the bunnies stay the hell out of your kohlrabi.
Last spring was when I resolved that I wanted to go back to school, for real. Not to chip away slowly at another degree, but to make it my primary business to get my doctorate, and then hopefully find a position on a university music faculty somewhere. In springtime you really can’t do jack about getting into a school, just research and thinking and plotting and making connections and such. Nevertheless, in exactly one month I will be leaving my current job to begin full time doctoral study at a very fine university. I haven’t even started actually doing the thing my resolution was about, and it will take me another 3-4 years to even get the degree, but it’s real! I’m really going to do this. And it started last spring.
I think it was also last spring or so, late in the spring, actually, when we realized our half-butt attempts at gardening were not going to cut it, and we didn’t want another squishy swampy clay-dirt rotten-harvest spring in the backyard of the home we moved into almost 3 years ago. By the time we made the resolutionthe veggie plants were already in, so we figured we should just wait the season out and then start doing it right come autumn. We planned. We plotted. There would be a beautiful garden with herbs and flowers and enough fruits and veggies to cut our grocery bills dramatically, enough that I could can tomatoes for winter and make salsa and freeze pesto and make our own elderberry cough syrups…eventually.
So in fall we raked three yards worth of leaves, and the neighbors’ kids (who donated many of the leaves) came and their kids and mine jumped in the hugest leaf pile I’ve ever seen for about an hour. It was awesome.

See in the back left corner, our sort of overgrown raised bed? That was the veggie garden before. A testament to how bad I am at weed management.
The other corner had a smaller bed, in which I’d put my mint, lemon balm, and two unfortunate lavender plants. I misunderestimated the aggression of the two mints, and the lavenders were utterly swamped and overgrown. Only one has survived.

(And gotta love this action shot, huh?)

Our goal was to landscape the entire back of our yard, and to put in a shed for storage and my husband’s woodworking stuff. So we mapped and trenched it out, covered the grass with cardboard and laid in a border…covered everything with manure, leaves, 11 cubic yards of topsoil, and 4 cubic yards of wood chip mulch……had the shed built…edged and planted and re-protected from the hungry bunnies (chicken wire rocks).

And this is now our yard:

(Now do you see why I've been so obsessed with gardening this season?)
Obviously, it’s got a long way to go. I just found out that my plug packs of perennial herbs and groundcovers are on backorder, and I’m trying to figure out when I’ll get them. And the new plants and berry bushes will take ages to really establish, and the apple tree will be kind of diminutive for quite a while. It’ll be a good 3-4 years—probably about the same time I’ll be getting ready to graduate with my doctorate—before it really even vaguely starts to resemble the garden I’m dreaming of, the one we resolved last spring.
But it’s a start.
The important resolutions don’t come on command. They sleep underground, they sprout in the darkness and push their way into the light. And once there, we can ignore them if we choose. Or we can feed them and nurture them until they bear fruit.
Happy Spring, everyone!
--Jenn the Greenmom
This is the Green Phone Booth's contribution to the Green Moms Carnival to be hosted at Organic Mania on June 22nd.  Make sure you pop in to find out what the green women of the blogosphere resolve mid-year.


Green Bean said...

You've made a great start, Jenn!! I always feel that building a garden is a multi year project. Happy planting.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Looking at these photos is so funny--I really do have LOTS AND LOTS of plants in there, you just can barely see them because they are so small!

And after the rains we've had, the carrot seedlings are now up around the chives and apple tree, and the peas and/or beans have sprouted by the shed--next we're getting trellises for the sunny wall of that, so those things can climb up.


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