Yesterday I planted for the first time in the raised bed planter that was last April’s birthday gift. I meant to plant then, but we were heading out of town for three weeks, and then it was summer, which is unspeakably hot around here and lingers until the middle of October, and then it was winter, and this winter has been wet and windy with surprising cold snaps, and so today in full but feeble sunshine, I finally did the planting.
It was only when the seedlings someone else had started were in the trunk of my car that I realized I have never planted anything before—not really. I transplanted a jade from my father-in-law, and I’ve assisted Will in replacing things that died in our 115+ heat wave last September, and I wrote the check years ago when a nursery came in and planted the trees in our backyard after considerable manipulation of our basically-clay soil. I’m the planner, but not the planter in the family.
And so, as I gently removed plant after plant, making a well in the topsoil, and tamping soil firmly back into place while the neighbor’s German Shepherd whined on the other side of the fence, it occurred to me that this entire effort might be a colossal failure. It was suddenly clear that I bought far too many plants for the space, and a whole pack of Swiss chard and three jalapenos won’t be going in. The strawberries are too close together due to a basic math error, I ended up with a squash that is probably perfectly lovely but is not the squash that I thought I was buying, and already I am fighting the urge to overwater everything. On the YouTube videos I watched, too impatient to do anything other than skip ahead to the good parts, people have vibrant gardens, lush and leafy and natural and (seemingly) effortless. These growers seem calm and happy, and probably garden only after half an hour each of yoga and meditation each day. I know I will tend my plants haphazardly, distractedly, my body a ball of stress, the mere existence of my endless to-do list producing great anxiety.
I have started a thing.
It’s a very small act of bravery, a very small act of creation, a very small sign that after this long winter there is hope, and maybe even a vegetable or two, on the horizon.
Paula Treick DeBoard