So, I have to admit that I don't have a green thumb, on either hand. But, I do have a willing heart, as well as time and some money to invest in a "real garden." Now I say real because the past couple of years my version of a garden was find a few square feet of open space in the backyard, put some seeds in very late in the season, water them a ton, pick a few weeds and hope that something grows before an early frost in September. Not an ideal way to go about doing a "real garden."
This year was different. And this year is more special because our four-year-old, Madison, is interested in being Daddy's helper in the backyard.
Equipped with knowledge, thanks to an NDSU Extension Center course on square-foot gardening, and with the plan to call my in-laws for any last minute advice, I took some assorted seeds to the backyard with the plan to grow a garden. Of course, I did get a little lucky, thanks to a free kit to make a square-foot garden and beautiful Saturday weather in early May. All these things, combined with the enthusiasm of a preschooler at my hip, and the 2010 gardening endeavor was off on the right foot.
An hour and a half later, with everything in place, it was time to put the seeds in the ground and plant the starter tomato, cucumber and pepper plants from Lowe's. This is the part that Madison and therefore Daddy really enjoyed. A dozen questions later, "Why do plants start as seeds? Why do they all look different?" and, "When are they going to grow?" (along with my standard answer of, "Because that's the way God made them." and, "I'm not really sure why.") and the garden was all in place! Four feet by four feet of tomatoes, onions, beans, lettuce, carrots, pumpkins and much more. Much better than any other year!
Now the hard part - waiting for them to grow. You can tell I can sometimes be impatient. Just like I can sometimes be sarcastic.
The saving grace and driving force would be my daughter and her keen interest in anything green that grows in our garden. Thankfully, to this point, we haven't had to pull any weeds. Yet I'm sure that day will come and will provide another good learning opportunity for our family.
As for now, thanks to Mother Nature and plenty of rain these past three weeks, almost all of our plants are growing just fine. A great return on a small investment of time and energy results in springtime garden excitement. I hope all your gardening preparations and endeavors this year are as joyful as mine. Thank you Madison!
(Mark Lyman is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)