The sun was warm enough to make me think about changing into short sleeves. But I knew I’d cool off once the digging was done.
Fate sat in the shade of the Lilac bush as I raked up the leaf mulch and turned the soil in my garden. At one point her ears perked up and her focus shifted. She stood slowly, her tail swaying back and forth gaining speed as she looked at the car that stopped at our Little Free Library.
Fate stayed when I told her to, but I kept an eye on her till the people turned their car around in our driveway and left.
Later in the day, she wouldn’t listen to me as she ran to greet four of Moise and Barbara’s children when they walked up the driveway for a visit to the farm. The three girls wore meticulous ankle-length dresses, each in a different color. The same red’s, green’s and blue’s that are familiar from Amish quilts.
I almost forgot that this was one of the things I always wished for, a dog who would sit with me when I gardened. I still have to keep an eye on her though. Fate likes people too much.
Yesterday I pulled up the warped and faded cardboard from my vegetable garden. Ants scurried around one piece, hurriedly moving their eggs to a safe place. I had disrupted their nest. I piled up the bricks that held the cardboard down all winter into the wheelbarrow and brought it all to the barn. The bricks to be stored till I needed them for something else and the cardboard to help start our Summer Solstice bonfire.
The leaf mulch and cardboard had worked well. The only things growing my garden were the Hollyhocks along the fence and last year’s Kale beginning to sprout. I hadn’t covered either with cardboard.
I’ve tried to grow cucumbers along the fence for years, but they never took. Even the morning glories I planted last year didn’t grow. But the year-old Hollyhocks are already bushy reminding me that the seeds I was planting today really will grow with the right conditions and some patience.
I still have a hard time trusting that the tiny seeds I plant will actually sprout beautiful flowers and food we can eat.
This year half my garden is planted with seeds that Marsha sent me from Iowa. Hidatsa red beans, Ireland Creek Annie white beans and Honeyboat squash. I also planted sweetpeas, cilantro, dill, a lettuce mix and sunflowers.
Before covering my garden with leaves and cardboard in the fall, I spread a layer of donkey manure on it. Today I stood looking down at the rich dark soil after raking it out. My garden is about the size of one of my quilts. And I plant it the same way I make a quilt, figuring out as I go which seeds will go where.
I started with the sweetpeas because I knew they needed a trellis to climb. I was just about to step over the small chickenwire fence into my garden when I stopped and took off my sneakers. The soil looked too soft, too luscious not to feel with my bare feet.
When all the seeds were planted I covered it all with old hay and watered it.
I know I planted too many seeds for the small plot of land. And I know I should thin out the sprouts as they grow. But I’ve never been able to do that before. I have a hard time making the decision of which sprouts should live and which should be plucked from the soil. I want to give them all an equal chance to grow.
But that goes back to my childhood and comes from my own feelings of not belonging. It may work for people but it doesn’t make for good gardening. And anyway, at this point, I have a hard time believing any of my seeds will grow at all.
So, as in the same way I make my quilts, I’ll just take it one step at a time. The seeds are now planted. Next, I’ll wait to see which ones actually sprout. By then the lilacs will have faded and who knows maybe I’ll feel different than I have in the past and will pluck the weaker sprouts letting the strongest thrive.
Or maybe not.