Monday, May 28, 2012

From Exhaustion to Exhilaration...

"When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have been doing with my own hands."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a limit that everyone reaches, and this weekend I hit that limit and wall. The stress of work, the busy pace of life and pushing myself to do it all – caught up with me and I started the weekend exhausted and with a migraine.

On Saturday, I woke with a headache, but still wanted to go out to lunch, so we went to the Boynton, which was amazing as always. It’s encouraging to walk into a local place where people are friendly and remember you and your favorite drink or meal and suggest things you will actually enjoy. After lunch we went to Wooberry for frozen yogurt. I had Lemon with fresh strawberries and little chocolate curls. Another favorite, and so delicious.

But after that, I felt sapped, like my strength was gone completely and I couldn’t do anything else. This being a long weekend, I knew I had to get some rest! We got home and took a 3 hour nap, and then went into the garden to water and look around. I spent a lot of time just walking from tree to tree and plant to plant and found some of what I needed was restored. This connection is crucial for me to keep sane. I had lived so long without gardening and now that it is such a big part of my life, I cannot imagine a day that I don’t walk in the garden.

As the weekend has passed, I am feeling calmer and healthier and I have enjoyed this time home to work on little projects and rest for the coming week.

2 weeks ago

Ready for companion plantings

We worked on the next step of our 4x8 bed with the Sunflowers and Corn. They had grown enough in just two weeks, that we added three squashes (butternut, zucchini, and pumpkin) and filled in the spaces with Mexican Dry Red Bean, an heirloom bean for storing.  We also replanted some Sunflowers because some of them are being eaten and we haven't been able to see what is snacking on them.

There is room behind the bed - and around it to either trellis the squashes or train them to the front yard - which is largely untouched right now and would be lovely full of squash plants and flowers.

It was so refreshing to sit on the back patio (after the shade returned) with a cold drink and just look at the green that has appeared over the past couple of weeks. The tree trunks are all thickening and the leaves are growing like crazy. The stars of the garden are the two beds of peas. The shelling peas are in the Hugelkultur bed and are doing great - the Snap peas are in a far bed and just started flowering this week - and have also grown to more than 4 feet tall.

Shelling peas
In the center of the garden, is the herb spiral, everything was planted by seed and had sprouted. Some are growing very quickly and others are taking their time, but all sprouted, and that was something new for me. I had never planted herbs from seed. I find this such a beautiful addition to the garden.

Fruit trees and vegetable beds in the back yard. 

Last Autumn, I planted Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes) in an unused side bed near our front steps and they are now more than 12 inches high...however, the bed had been taken over by weeds and grasses, so I did a little work today to make it more attractive and useful.  Because it is a fairly new bed, nothing was deep rooted, so I just pulled up the grass and other weeds that were making themselves useful until I did something with the space. I planted Nasturtium and Green Beans in around the Sunchokes and then covered everything again with straw. 

Sad little forgotten bed.

Something else had changed - the 50 gallon rain barrel in the back left corner of the picture is new this week,  and the hose will be on the inside of the fence, so I wanted to put a path in that would give me a sure place to walk when I need to water the plants.  Rob sliced up some of the Pine tree that my sister Kim gave to us and I made a small path in an area that nothing ever grows.  Also, one step into the middle so I can reach to water all the plants. I pulled out grass and weeds and planted Nasturtium along the little white (dog proofing) fence and hope to keep the weeds out by growing something beautiful and useful.

All in all, it is a huge improvement and just the beginning of our work with the front yard. We did get another 50 gallon rain barrel and put that near the 4x8 bed which is the center of the house and with the 65 gallon that we have been using (and using up quickly) in the back garden, we should have enough water for all of the beds. 

One of the nicest things about this weekend was that our neighbors were home celebrating Memorial Day in their yards, hanging out in their pools and it made it a pleasant weekend. Even though our houses are very close to each other, I don't mind. We have some really great people to live near. Chatting early in the morning with one neighbor - he asked if he could come in and see how things are going and it was fun to show him around and hear his story about being born in Italy and always having a garden - up until recently.

It made me happy that someone else could come and enjoy with us.

When you see how the yard used to look - it's really not surprising that we stayed inside and no one really stopped by.  It's been transformed and it is just the beginning! 


  1. Wow. Sounds like you are really enjoying your gardens. :). I'm so glad it's going so well. Great job! It's a lot of work.

    1. I am enjoying it! It doesn't seem like work (although it feels like work physically)
      You'll have to stop by and see in a few more weeks when everything is planted and growing! :)

  2. It is quite the transformation - and the growing season is just beginning!

    1. We can see a difference from morning to evening - some plants are noticeably taller, flowering, have more leaves, etc. I'm glad you had a chance to see it in person, so you know how much has changed in just a couple of weeks !

  3. Oh Michele, I just found your blog! Your yard/garden just looks wonderful. I really love your spiral herb garden!

    1. Melissa! I'm glad you like the herb spiral - that is my favorite part of the garden so far. Of course, I say that about a lot of things we've done. :)
      I just keep adding seeds and watching to see what happens. You will probably not be surprised that I plan to have a medicinal herb garden - comfrey, valerian, st. john's wort, etc. Ever the herbalist :)