Thursday, August 5, 2010

How does my garden grow?

I've been calling a small and shaded area of dirt my "garden" for the past four years. And because of my love of the landscaping and terracing in our backyard, I've just lived without a real garden.

But this year that all changed. All thanks to my father-in-law. The man is the most hard-working human i've ever known. And when he comes to visit he gets things done that Reid and I have put off doing for months (or sometimes years!) He calls us weeks in advance to get us thinking about what we want him to work on while he's here. And after a few meager attempts of "oh, Mike, i just want you to relax" i usually come up with a decent-sized list of to-do's. This trip the to-do was these garden boxes.

His trip out here in April was part of an entire Allred family gathering we hosted. It was so fun to have everyone here in our cozy little house. We fit. Barely, but we fit. My girls had a blast playing with their cousins, Reid and I had a blast visiting with family. And Mike--well, between games of "Princesses and the Bad Prince" and walking around with Gabe in his arms, he built five awesome raised-bed garden boxes. These boxes meant digging up and transplanting some rose bushes. They meant a slightly less beautiful backyard.

But you know what else they meant?

The world to me. Seriously. This was early April. My mom had only a few weeks left. I was in constant heart-ache and denial, watching life slip out of my mom, and there was nothing I could do about. And I needed a place where I could make things live. Where everything was in my control. Where "nature's course" wasn't my worst enemy.

That's exactly what this garden was for me. It gave me something to do and to focus on in the times i was back here in Denver, between trips to Provo. And you can ask Reid--it was all-consuming. I researched EVERYTHING you can imagine. I chose square-foot gardening, and planned and mapped each box out, with several rough drafts. I learned which plants thrive well next to which plants, and figured out when i could plant what, which ones to start from seed, which ones to buy. I mean, i was obsessing over this garden. It was a coping technique. And it worked well.

After the funeral and everything, I came home to copious amount of spinach in two of the beds. This made me happier than any other single thing could have. We ate spinach in and on everything. The girls thought it was the coolest thing ever, which only added to my state of bliss. (It still does, in fact. Watching them enjoy the garden has been a huge added bonus that I somehow hadn't anticipated.)

I've been dreaming of a real garden since i-don't-know-when. So, really i don't know how I didn't convince myself 4 years ago to make this change. But I'm glad I didn't. This garden has been my happy-place all summer. The newness of it is a big role in that. And, i kid you not, I sit on my deck and stare at it. Often. The way you do the ocean. And it amazes me, the same way the never-ending water does.

And although the #$%@ bunnies had their way with our beets and strawberries, they were kind enough to leave us our snap peas, lettuces, some kale, tomatoes, more tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, squash, carrots, peppers, basil and the satisfaction of watching tiny seeds turn into exactly what they claimed they would!!

And here's a photo i just found--it's the closest I've got to a "before" picture, with the rose bushes that we transplanted behind the girls. And you know what? After looking at the lush, beautiful garden above, i miss these roses even less.


Emily Alexander said...

Wow, Emily! That garden looks amazing and I'm glad you're enjoying it so much:)

LAURA said...

that looks awesome. i've been wanting to do square foot gardening on raised beds for a couple years now, thanks for the inspiration.

The Ultimate Mama said...

SO proud of you! You're not allowed in the "black thumbs" club anymore, because clearly, you've graduated! Love you!

Candace said...

What a great father in law. That is so sweet that he built these for you.
I'm so excited that you have finally gotten your garden. It looks amazing.

merathon said...

i am having garden envy. i have been wanting a garden for so long and one thing i was very excited about when we decided to move to denver was that we'd be close to my dad who is an amazing gardener so he could help me get it started! well, our new yard unfortunately is half the size of our charlotte yard, so now i don't know if we'll even have room for one... :(

The Busby Family said...

Wow Emily, again, I am so impressed. You are so amazing. Your garden looks sooo great!!! Great Job!!!

Shells said...

That is one amazing garden. Looks beautiful, and I'm sure the produce is delicious!

Brady said...

Emily! I have been doing research all night on square foot gardening and I remember seeing these pictures and reading your post last year. How inspiring! I hope to start out small this year and build one box for our deck to try it out. I hope it can look half as good as yours did! Hope you guys are well.