That's What She Said: Lazy Person's Guide to Gardening
- Dawn Dumont | April 24, 2017
We are going to have a garden this year. It will be just outside my house in the field of calf deep mud that I trek through to get to my truck each morning.
I like the idea of growing my own food; it appeals to me as a cheap person. No more lifting bags of potatoes in the grocery story trying to figure out which weighs slightly more. No more running outside the office in haste trying to get to the Hutterite food sellers before my coworkers buy them out.
No more searching aimlessly through grocery stores for sweet potatoes – which in terms of taste and nutrition, are like the Idris Elba of potatoes. (But watch out for yams. Though they are a type of sweet potato they are also expectorants and every once in a while when you are eating them, you will spontaneously throw up. This happened to me three times before I looked it up. I am nothing if not a determined eater.)
So this is going to be the year that I return to the land, invest my toil and seeds and in return, I will get a sense of connection to the land – along with millions of dollars’ worth of peas (just an estimate.)
I am not a complete newbie. When I was a kid, my mother loved to garden. This was fortuitous because I loved to eat dirt smeared carrots. Mom taught us to be gentle and careful when planting. I can still remember her dulcet voice reverberating through the reserve, “What the hell are you doing! You already planted the onions in that row and now you’re throwing carrot seeds in there?! It’ll take a thousand years for them to grow!”
So with that experience plus common sense, I do not think gardening will be difficult. You just need seeds, soil, water and sunshine – I only have to pay for one of these. Some people also subscribe to this thing called “weeding” but I will not be engaging in that selective discrimination. If a plant wants to grow in my garden, then it will be allowed to do so. Nature is all about survival of the fittest and I want my garden to reflect that. Whatever plant emerges victorious – then I will eat that plant, even if it is Scottish Thistle. I also won’t be watering my garden because that is the sky’s job.
Sometimes to protect your food, you do have to fight with aggressive and violent predators, like deer and rabbits for instance. At this point, it’s important to have a scarecrow. I’ve put one together – it’s in the shape of a human man, with jowls and an aggressive potbelly wearing an “NRA” t-shirt and a “MAGA” hat. It frightens me to be honest.
To be a good farmer, you have to “get to know” your soil. Unfortunately your soil can’t fill out a personal profile like an online dater: “happy go lucky, nurturing clay based dirt with no major drainage issues seeks same.” Learning about your soil involves looking at it, walking on it, talking to it - I guess it could also involve tasting it – but I’ll leave that to my toddler.
Here’s something I was surprised to learn – you can’t grow certain plants next to each other. Apparently plants have plant-buddies that they prefer to others; gardening is like a high school for plants. Like beans like broccoli and tomatoes but can’t stand carrots. Dill likes carrots and broccoli but has a hate-on for beans. And nobody likes cauliflower who has to eat lunch alone at their own table. Sorry cauliflower, it’s your fault for not being sweeter.
Ideally you want to start your garden early. I feel like I’ve already started by telling people that I’m going to plant a garden. But some gardeners have already started planting seedlings in their kitchens to give their plants a head-start. These people are cheaters.
I will not be starting my garden until the last frost has frosted. Only then will I toss my seeds in the ground, add water and six to eight weeks later – voila – I’ll be a vegetable baroness. Now if only there was a way to grow cheese – I’d never have to go to the grocery store again.