Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Has Sprung!

   I am officially declaring the end of winter!  (Hear me, Mother Nature?  No funny business.)  The past week has been gorgeous, even the rainy day seemed to promise changes and new life.  Sigh.  I love it.  I love the end of the bleak grey cold.  I love the end of darkness.  I love the end of a stuffy stale house.  I love the end of trying to come up with ways to entertain my toddler indoors...(only partially kidding about that last one).

   My new undertaking this season is a garden.  Not just a few bedding plants in the front yard--I'm talking grow your own food, mud up to your knees, need a tractor to till it up garden.  No, we did not move to the country, although that is my heart's desire.  My grandparents, however, already live out of town a ways, and have had a massive (half an acre?) garden that has fed the family, neighbors, church members, and anyone else who needed produce for the past fifteen years.  After last year, Grandpa declared that he was done gardening, said it was too hard on his knees and he just wasn't feeling up to it anymore--well, maybe a couple of tomato plants because, you know, the ones you get at the store aren't fit to eat.... He kindly offered his well-tended garden to me, said he'd plow it up if I wanted to plant anything.

Our blank canvas!  Love that red dirt!
   I have a not-so-secret desire to be Ma Ingalls and a dream of having a little land with a clothesline and chickens and a garden, so I jumped at the chance to learn from the master and see if I kill outdoor plants as quickly as I kill indoor ones. So Grandpa got out the tractor and tilled up the earth, and I bought some seeds.  He informed me that the first thing to go in the ground was onions, but we'd be planting sets and sprouts, not seeds.  Lesson #1 learned.  When it quit snowing and the ground dried out last week, we set to work.

Grandpa gettin' work done
   Grandpa had said he'd pick up the onions to plant when he was at the store next.  It never occurred to me that he never asked how many I wanted to plant.  When I got to the greenhouse where they were being stored, I saw this:

Baby onions!
   That, my friends, combined with the sets he had for me, is THOUSANDS of onions.  Did I mention that green onions are grandpa's favorite thing out of the garden?  Apparently they are.  So we got to work, poking holes and planting tiny little wisps of onions.  It wasn't too hard, and I enjoyed spending the time in the red dirt that I missed so much when we lived out of state.  The weather couldn't have been better, and it was a rare chance to spend some one-on-one time with Grandpa.

Putting in the elbow grease!
   I was tired at the end of the day, but it was so satisfying to look back at the work we had accomplished.  I'm sure I'm romanticizing things, but I kept thinking about all of the generations of pioneers who had come before me, who had worked this red dirt and survived by the sweat of their own brows and the strength of their own hands.  It felt right to be learning something so ingrained in the state I grew up in, sort of reverent for everyone who made it what it is.  But like I said, ask me in September how I feel about gardening and I may have changed my tune...

Look closely--can you see my babies out there?

  I also started some seeds for some other things I'd like to try growing this year.  I'm considering this my experimental garden year, learning how things grow and what does and doesn't like the weather and soil here.  I started carrots, spinach and arugula, green beans, zucchini, and corn.  I have seeds for a few other things, but it's a bit early for them, and I plan to buy young plants for tomatoes and strawberries when the frost danger passes.

Seed babies growing in the greenhouse!
   I snapped a few pictures while I was there because everything felt so alive.  Spring was whispering everywhere, from the bluebird that visited the garden to the blooms on the fruit trees.  Every time I took a picture I thanked God for making all things new!

Our colorful visitor

   Before we left, Abby Kate, who had been napping and playing with my grandma, convinced Grandpa that she needed a ride in the Mule.  It's one of her favorite things to do at their house, and there isn't much that she can't convince Grandpa of, so they loaded up and went for a ride.  I love that they get to know each other, and that she loves them the way I do.  I hope she keeps these sweet memories forever!

Waving at Mama!

   I'll attempt to keep things updated as to what my kill count is--I'm not sure these poor plants know what they're getting into!  In the meantime, I have several flowerbeds full of weeds that are mocking me... Time to get a little more dirt under my nails!

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