The Gardening Obsession

This week’s Spin Cycle is about “obsessions.”  Hoo, boy.

Yes, we tend to be obsessive, which is probably why Beloved and I are so well suited.  Three years ago when I began to obsess about the kind of food we eat and where it comes from, Beloved was right there with me.  In fact, he’s become more obsessive about it all than I have. (Not surprising, since my loving husband is an “A type” if there ever was one. As for me, I’m not sure I even qualify as a “B type” – I’m probably somewhere down the line at…M).

At any rate, last year we weren’t exactly excited about the offerings from our CSA.  Not that they were bad or anything, just nothing too terribly out of the ordinary – lots of lettuce and green beans and zucchini and tomatoes and peppers, but no kohlrabi or bitter melon or dragon tongue beans or anything like that.  Now, there is a farmer we know who grows things like that (and much, much more) and offers CSA memberships, but his farm is considerably further away.  He’ll bring our share to the farmers market, but that means driving out to Peninsula every Saturday morning, something we elected not to do last year; we attended that particular farmer’s market once or twice a month.

So, Beloved decided we’d grow our own vegetables, hopefully being able to ditch the CSA all together eventually.

Now, we’ve been growing our own food for at least six years; I have a wonderful herb garden on the east side of the house, and we have two 8′ x 4′ plots in our back yard where we’ve grown everything from tomatoes to okra to peppers to broccoli over the years.  But once he decided we’d expand on that, those two plots became home to perennials – rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries to be exact (the asparagus crop has been disappointing to say the least, but the rhubarb is huge and we’re going to have a ton of strawberries, much to The G Man’s delight).  I should also pause here and mention that we have a huge blackberry bush that is going to drown us in that beautiful fruit as well, and a raspberry bush that we hope will eventually be just as prolific.

Once he decided to expand our backyard garden, I began finding sketches all over the house with various layouts of raised beds and positions for water barrels (don’t even get me started on The Search For The Perfect Water Barrels).  Fortunately, he decided to “start small” and built 3 raised beds:

Raised Garden Beds

Well, until recently, anyway – I think he’s decided to build 3 more before Spring is over.  At any rate, we have squash and peas so far – the peas are what the lines of twine are for, and you can see they’re off to a good start.  (Remind me to tell you the compost squash story another day.)  Here are the “old beds” we’ve been growing things in for several years (I forgot to take a photo of the herb garden):

Old Garden Beds

If you look closely, you can see the three sad, lonely asparagus spears next to the huge rhubarb.  The strawberries are in the bed in the foreground.  You can’t really tell, but there are dozens of flowers in there, each with a tiny strawberry in the center.  That big bush to the right along the fence is the blackberry bush; the small plant to the left of it is the raspberry bush we put in last year.

Of course, I’ve already shown you the compost bins and told you about our weekly jaunts to pick up eggs and 25 gallons of cow manure (I swear I have the only blog where you can do a legitimate search for “seriously good shit”), but then the man just went off the deep end and decided we weren’t going to purchase “starter plants” any longer because we had no idea where the seeds came from (“Monsanto” is a four-letter word in our home).  So he got a seed catalog that sells organic, heirlooms seeds and the next thing I knew we had this behind the loveseat in our living room:

Seed Trays

That long trailing plant is the squash I’ll tell you about at a later date.  The green pot contains a live basil plant we purchased at the grocery store, the plastic up is The G Man’s geranium he started from seeds at preschool, and the two small plants in the foreground are red bell pepper starters we got from a guy in the neighborhood who is also an organic gardening enthusiast.  Everything else are plants Beloved started from seeds – I can’t tell you everything off the top of my head, but I know there’s butter lettuce, Brussels sprouts and purple carrots in there.

But it doesn’t stop there, oh no.  He’s talking about digging up the part of the front lawn that runs beside the walk leading from our driveway to the front door with a decorative raised bed and planting sweet potatoes there because the flowers are supposed to be so pretty.

And he’s taken the lawn organic so we can harvest our own dandelion greens and the purselane that grows there wild.

I’ll let you know when he buys me a large, iron kettle and some lye and begins to refer to me as “Ma.”

11 thoughts on “The Gardening Obsession”

  1. I am so jealous of Beloved’s garden! I desperately wish I was the kind of person who could have an amazing vegetable garden, but I’m afraid I’m the kind of person who kills everything green. It’s sad. I just got rhubarb and strawberries in my CSA box! I’ll have to whip up a crisp or something. I want you to start churning your own butter. Seriously, it’s the next thing I expect from you. A gay friend of mine (you gotta admit that the gay population is always on the cutting edge of the next big thing) has become an artisan butter nut. You should start your own artisanal butter company.

    Anyway…you are linked!

    1. Gretchen, the only reason I haven’t churned my own butter yet is the lack of good quality cream that hasn’t been ultra-pasteurized – the farm we get our milk from uses all of their cream for their ice cream shop (and the butter they sell, which is the butter I use). But don’t you worry – as soon as I find the right stuff, there’ll be butter all OVER the place here.

  2. He does seem to have become a bit possessed.

    At one of our homes we took out the decorative flowers in the bed along the front walkway and installed a hedge of rosemary and medicinal lavender. We planted peas on the fence between our house and the neighbor and trimmed up our rhododendrons so we could plant lettuces in the shade during the hottest part of the summer. That way they wouldn’t bolt so quickly. It is amazing the amount of food you can produce in an urban/suburban yard if you are a tab bit creative.

    Good luck on this year’s garden.

  3. So the subject is “Obsessed” and your mind instantly jumps to me? Brahaha!

    Yeah, an “M TYPE”,if you insist on a stereotype,as in menopausal! I know you don’t feel it, but you are even more beautiful than ever in your entire life!

    Ahhhh… Just this morning I decided I need 24 more 2″x6″x8′ to make four new beds before I play next week.

    I am impressed. When you Google “Some Seriously Good Shit” you outrank!

    Ma Kettle, I’m rendering the last of the bison fat as I speak.

    Butter??? Did someone say “BUTTER?”

  4. Michele, those are all WONDERFUL suggestions – I can’t wait for Beloved to see your comment.

    I haven’t had much luck with my rosemary, although I know it’s a perennial; it just won’t come back and I end up re-planting some every year. Now, having said that, the sage, thyme and Greek oregano are threatening to take over the east side of the house.

  5. it is a busy time for gardening. my lawn space is shrinking (due to ever expanding vegetable gardens) and the grass looks like crap. i’d rather spend my time and money on plants my family can eat. it sure is fun.

    1. Exactly! My lawn may not look so nice next year. The chemical weaning process will be interesting. I’m looking for all and any advice on not using chemicals.

      Grow food, not lawns!

  6. This is awesome – and clearly why I like your husband. I can relate since I tend to be obsessive about things myself. I’m terribly jealous of your garden. Unless I grow a new arm to replace my damaged one, I don’t think gardening much is in my future. I will have to live vicariously through you.

  7. What fun you are having. My mother in law was a wonderful gardener. They had six acres with cows, chickens, fruit trees and eventually with much patience a great stand of asparagus and rhubarb. Must have done something right as she is 98 years old but no longer able to do her beloved vegetable and fruit gardening and canning.
    May you both enjoy your gardening obsessions since you are now living in a hot house!

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