I spent part of sunny Saturday out in our garden, pulling weeds and planting seeds and seedlings in our large raised vegetable beds. The time I spend there, working the soil and bringing things to life will forever remind me of my mother’s illness and death last year. Because it was during that time that Butcher Son took over my vision for our backyard renovations and provided a bright spot in what was a very dark time.
During the months that I was mired in my mother’s medical crisis, my whole family showed great strength and support. They took my phone calls at all hours of the day and night, often patiently listening through my tears. They put up with my long absences, my vacant stares, and tried to follow along as I explained, in often confusing medical terms, everything that was going on.
Much like the household chores that went undone, my plans for the back garden got put on hold. Of course, they were grand plans that would take months to execute. I wanted to remove the entire lawn and make the backyard our own little suburban farm. The project, as I envisioned it, would require renovation of about 60 percent of the yard, leaving only the outer perimeter plants and trees.
To my amazement and surprise, just like Brilliant Daughter took over the kitchen and handled feeding the family, Butcher Son stepped in and made my vision a reality. He rallied the troops and rented a sod cutter and took out the whole back lawn. Then he rented a stump grinder and got rid of a huge unsightly tree stump and much of its oversized roots. He took out old bushes and shrubs, and made what seemed like a million dump runs. After rototilling and amending the soil, he provided me with a blank slate to work from.
I provided him with my design and he found the person to do it, securing prices, setting appointments and supervising the build. For two days, his friend Refugio came and measured, sawed, bolted and capped. He placed paper around the inner sides and stapled in chicken wire to keep the critters from burrowing up.
Once the gorgeous raised beds were built and I ordered the 12 yards of soil, he almost single-handedly (with a wee bit of help from Mr. B and I, and his trusty sidekick Lauren) trucked all that dirt into the back yard, one large garbage bin at a time. For hours he labored filling the cans, trucking them back, dumping them and then starting all over again.
Needless to say when all was said and I done I was in tears. It was such a labor of love, designed to provide me with a happy place. Our garden last year was a bit sparse and some things never really took off. Part of that was the lack of time we could devote to it, part of it was me learning what would grown in the more shaded beds.
This year I am trying to plant more carefully, more intensively. Although it won’t be a square-foot garden, and I am still a bit hesitant to cram too much in, I think we will have some good crops and be able to do some canning.
Tomorrow, Butcher Son will rent a rototiller and turn the soil in the part of the garden that is not raised, where we plant tomatillos, tomatoes and peppers. I’ll have four kinds of tomatoes going in this year: San Marzano, Roma, Tomande (an heirloom plant), and Big Mama, which is a variety of paste tomato, plus 3 tomatillo plants. And this year I am confining the peppers to jalapeno and poblano. Also planted this year are:
- Snap peas
- Jewel-toned beets
- Purple pole and rattlesnake beans
- Lemon cucumber
- Japanese eggplant
- Lettuce (Rouge and Farmer’s Market blend)
- Chives, rosemary and thyme planted last year
I’ve got a bit of room left, so I am hunting around for just the right thing. Any suggestions?
Last Year's Garden: