A few weeks back, Frankfort Patch put out for a reader to help us grow vegetables at Lincoln-Way Eash High School's community garden with the assistance of . We have enlisted a reader-helper and have gotten started. Welcome to our first gardening blog post!
Last week, editor Joe Vince selected our lucky reader-turned-cogardener while I was away on an impromptu visit to Minnesota, so this week, work on Patch's patch finally began in earnest. You'll meet my co-gardener, Gretchen Dust, in future blog posts where she'll share her perspectives and experiences (and hopefully not talk too much smack about me).
So far, I have cleared about two thirds of our plot (most of it before I went on vacation). This week, I put in marigolds (because I hear that they keep the rabbits and deer away) and planted an organic acorn squash plant I bought on clearance at (see photos). Early next week, we meet with the knowledgeable folks at Alsip for advice and more plants.
I am a novice gardener. I've grown some flowers and herbs, but that's it, so I'm learning on the job. For example, I never understood until this week why people wear Crocs for gardening. This includes yours truly—my friend gave me a pair and I never questioned it. But dirt and pebbles get in, and spiders and bugs could theoretically crawl in and bite one's foot. But Wednesday as I was rinsing off my trowel, I finally understood Crocs' appeal: Cold water on the feet feels so nice! And the shoes get clean, along with the feet.
I will now share with you some more early lessons I've learned, using risky second-person narration in hopes of bringing you, dear reader, into the scene.
- While gardening, your fingernails get incredibly dirty, and your manicure will chip, even if you're wearing gardening gloves.
- Many days after seeing your first big garden spider, you will continue to feel nervous in that particular corner of the garden even though logically you understand that spiders are mobile, and plus, there are many more where that one came from.
- On a related note, you hate the fact that garden spiders are the same color as dirt because their invisibility causes you to get much closer to them than you'd ordinarily allow. Then they startle you, causing you to tell them to "get lost, buddy."
- Spiders are not the only creepy crawlies in the dirt. There are numerous beetles, snails, ants, and even worms in non-standard, even fashion, colors. You call them all "buddy."
- Rototillers are hard to maneuver.
- Although there is a community rototiller in the garden, it does you no good if you're unable to move it. Therefore, with no garden implements of your own (except a watering can, a trowel and that three-pronged thing), you borrow a 50-year-old pitchfork from your neighbors. You call it "Jake."
- Stretching first does not prevent lower back pain caused by weeding and using Jake for hours to break up solid ground.
- One travel mug of ice water is not enough.
Stay tuned in the following weeks and months as Gretchen and I write about our heartaches and triumphs. And please, share what you know in the comments below; I can't speak for Gretchen, but I know I can use all the advice and pep talk I can get!