Saturday, May 16, 2009

Many hands make light work.

I remember, a dog's age ago, when I worked at Albany Medical Center; my manager there used to say that all the time. The fact is, the reason that old cliché rings true is that many hands generally make work more of a party, and therefore not really work at all. Well Hell, why do you think people used to throw sewing bees and corn shucking parties? That stuff can be deadly dull by itself.

Well in my opinion, a garden is just the same. It's a dreadful lot of work for one person to do on their own. That's why my friend's idea of a communal garden in her yard turned out to be not just a good idea, but a brilliant one. She's a single mom, with a three-year-old daughter, a six-year-old son, and her very first rural abode (I think). Across the street lives her friend, divorcing, with her three children. Then there's me, a frequent visitor, divorcing, two children.

My friend, I'll call her F here until she tells me otherwise, had a vision of a big garden out back... melons and pumpkins and peas and beans and spinach, and for some reason, tomatoes, even though she doesn't like them. ("It doesn't seem like it's a garden without tomatoes!") Fresh stuff that she could feed her kids. A garden can be powerfully entertaining and educational for a kid, on top of giving them just about the best food you can get.

But, you know. Two kids. A job. A cat. A house to keep track of. That's a lot by itself, without the garden.

So she made it a group effort.

We've all been doing our small parts here and there for weeks now, but this past weekend it just all came together at once. Even squeezing in as much work as we could when we had the opportunity, we'd only had half the original (somewhat small) garden patch tilled and planted at all. My brother's tiller provided the motivation, because he needs it back by next weekend for his garden; so I told Matt my biggest priority would be working at F's that weekend, and we all just dove in.

Matt got most of the preliminary tilling done on the other half of the garden patch. I filled in blank spots with more seeds where the bunnies had munched the pea and cauliflower plants. Planted another two rows of spinach. Got teased by F's mom about how crooked my rows were.

F's friend across the street, J, mowed the bejeebers out of the side lawn. Part of the problem with getting us started is that none of us seem to know how to use lawn equipment, or at least how to maintain it. Now we're finally getting underway, but we have a lot of catching up to do - that grass had been L-O-N-G.

Then J brought us up to her asparagus patch to have a look. It hasn't been tilled yet - what can I say, we're all newly-divorced women trying to learn new skills - so it was more like foraging than harvesting. Definitely the most fun I have ever had cutting asparagus. The girls were better at finding them than we were. Matt's daughter swears the overgrown asparagus she refused to put down helped her detect them. On the walk back to the house she carried a whole bag of overly-tall asparagus like some kind of weird asparagus beauty queen holding her bouquet.

On the way over to look at J's blueberry bushes, we found a huge patch of wild strawberries in bloom. Duly noted for next month! The asparagus field is flanked by two patches of what may be blackberry brambles, too.

The blueberry bushes are still awaiting their trimming. After this weekend the garden is in fairly good shape - I want to leave F room to plant some stuff too, after all - and maybe we can get to that soon, plus cleaning out the Virginia creepers that've grown in there. Nasty stuff. But also, the whole ground is carpeted in violets (including a patch of bizarrely tiny ones), just waiting for my salad bowl.

But when we came back for dinner, all kinds of thing had taken place in our absence. F's parents had come over with a mower and their own tiller, and tilled out an entire space for an herb garden as well as mowing the remainder of the lawn. After we ate, F was like a kid with a new toy at Christmas; even the rain couldn't keep her inside, and before you knew it we were all out there. I planted the parsley and chamomile while the kids her two kids and my daughter raked the chewed-up weeds out of it; F tilled the crap out of the main garden; Matt and his daughter chased my two-year-old son everywhere (they ended up playing T-ball with him, and he went home covered in mud).

Got home, ran tick checks, stuck the kids in the tub. Ran our own tick checks, which I don't mind saying is a fairly sexy enterprise until HOLY COW THERE'S A TICK GETITOFF GETITOFF GETITOFF!!!!!

So, that's another thing I'm learning in my new life. There were three ticks found on me this weekend, and I'm finally starting to take it with a little calm rather than descending into a giant case of the heebie-jeebies.


  1. It was funny to see her using ginat asparagus to seek out new asparugus. She was certainly good at finding them, and there's something fun about foraging for asparugus in an overgrown patch rather than just cutting them out of a neatly kept garden.

  2. I had SUCH a wonderful time this weekend!!! I love watching the kids all together & it's amazing how much fun ALL of the work is. Thank you for all your help ~ I can't wait until things start growing!