The Small Kitchen Garden

In my mind’s eye I can see it and it is beautiful! 

A four layer rock wall frames it perfectly.  The soil is deeply dug, and dark with compost and organic matter from the yard cleanup we have just accomplished.  Lots of moving and depositing worms keep the soil airy and fertile.  It is immaculate, with just the right spacing between plants and the richness of the exposed soil looking like a fresh clean carpet.  Later we will add heaps of hay for mulch to keep the roots of my contented little flora from getting chilled.  The happy little plants practically sing with joy in their new environment.  No matter what weather comes, the garden is clean, it is thriving, and it is producing lots of wonderful kitchen herbs and vegetables.

Then my husband comes in and awakens me out of my revelry.  No bother, he is just the man I want to see.  My Bob, a little on the grumpy side sometimes, overworked and tired most of the time, and yet to me he looks like a person who would enjoy a challenge! Certainly an opportunity to work alongside his loving wife of twenty some odd years.  I turn to him in excitement and tell him about our new project.

"You know where you just took down the boys’ swimming pool?"

He nods his head yes, and kinda grunts to let me know that he heard me.

"I want to put a small kitchen garden in that spot. What do you think about that?"

He furrows his brow and laughs at the same time.  How does he do that?  "What are you talking about, Jo?"  He moves closer to me so he can see what I am looking at out of the French doors in my dining room.

"There." I point to the little round bald looking spot in our back yard where our little grandson’s pool was a few minutes ago.  "I want to put out some herbs and onions. Maybe a few strawberry plants for Susie. You know how much she loves fresh strawberries."  My mind is racing with ideas. "Potatoes and carrots would be nice for those hearty soups that you like so much during the winter. Oh! And perhaps parsnips, I’d almost forgotten parsnips!" 

He tries to hide it, but I see it.  Frustration. Aggravation.  And then irritatingly, laughter. You know, the kind of laughter that hurts.  Not quite hysterical, but bordering obnoxious. "You’re crazy."

I don’t get mad at this man of mine.  I consider him a gift from God to me.  I know what he is thinking, and while I don’t like it, I have to admit that it’s true.  I’ve never been very good at maintaining a garden alone.  I have always needed his help.  A lot of his help.

"Don’t call me crazy, honey, I don’t like that.  I want just a tiny little kitchen garden, is that too much to ask?"  I rub his back as he washes his hands in the kitchen sink.  "Do you remember the garden spot you plowed up a few months ago?  I just got that half acre leveled and grass planted back in there, and you want to plow up another spot?  You’re crazy!"  He tries to walk away from me so that I can’t hit him with the towel I have for him. Okay.  I admit it.  I had asked him for a garden this spring.  It was the first time in ten years that I would have the time to care for a garden. I was so excited, I rushed out and bought seeds and plants galore!  Oh, it was going to be gorgeous!  Rows and rows of vegetables and flowers!  Bushels of produce!  I could see me drying and freezing to my little family’s delight.  So like a good husband, Bob dutifully went out and hooked up the plow to the small John Deere tractor that we use to mow our yard with.  The plow attachment was a little rusty and in need of new belts and pulleys or something; it took him days to hook the thing up.  But when he did, he plowed up a perfect little square garden spot that looked much too small to me.  Did he forget the gardens that we used to grow?  So I went out the next day while he was at work and plowed up some more. Unfortunately the equipment was not as easy for me to use as he had made it look the day before.  It was hard work!  And unfortunately, I am not quite as good at squaring things up as he is, so it turned out to more look like the state of Oklahoma than a tidy little square.  If the grandkids played on the slide of the huge playground Bob had built for them, then they would slide right into my garden. My children were amused.  My husband was not.

Then worse came to worse.  It rained here for three weeks in April!  The night that I had re-plowed the garden it began to rain, which made Bob that much more agitated because he wanted to get out there and ‘fix’ it and couldn’t. After three weeks of rain, and then another week and a half of letting the garden dry out, I figured it was too late in the season to start a garden and it would have to wait until the next season.  So being the "keep going" kind of person that I am, I started a major home improvement/redecorating project.  I definitely did not have time to garden now like I had planned.  There was far too much to be done to allow for the time that it would take to care for such a huge garden!  I must say that the kitchen is now beautiful. The new tile is outstanding.  The new counters and cupboards are clean, crisp and bright in appearance.  And now that spot that I had plowed was growing grass and was almost a match with the rest of the yard. You would almost never know that it had been plowed. But Bob tends to hold onto things in a bitter sort of way.  I knew he was wanting to remind me of the "April garden fiasco" as he affectionately calls it.

But he refrains after seeing my face.  "Jo, I know how you are.  You won’t take care of the garden, I will have to.  You always want a garden, and then it is left for me to either care for, or to fix back into the yard."  He walks away from me shaking his head and mumbling, "I don’t have time to mess with that now."

Okay.  Maybe we don’t need the rock to frame it. Maybe I can just do it without a frame. I’ll show him!  It shouldn’t be too hard to build up a small little garden for kitchen herbs and a few onions.  Potatoes are really better planted in the spring, and who eats parsnips anymore anyway? Strawberries are cheap here in the spring, I’ll just buy Susie a carton or two then.  No sense in getting carried away.  Start out small, then if it works out, add to it.  No need in getting crazy.  A few chive plants, maybe some onions.  What more kind of herbs do you need to cook in the winter anyway?  And onions are dirt cheap in the fall. Maybe I’ll just skip the onions altogether.  Maybe I’ll grow a few chives in the kitchen window.  Yeah, that’s it.  We’ll have potato and chive soup this winter with my own homegrown chives.  Wow!  The kids will be so excited!