Saturday, July 3, 2010

horticulture therapy. and a book.

You know what?

I'm a believer.

In Jesus Christ, most definitely,

but also in the therapeutic value of the world He gave us.

For me, nothing calms, focuses, and comforts me more than growing things and making my space in the world productive and beautiful.

Here are some of the results:

My heirloom Pink Brandywine tomatoes are doing splendidly. Call me weird, but there is just something about raising plants from seed that makes them much more endearing. :) You're wondering about the black plastic in the background? I'm raising cucumbers for a local horticulture program's annual pickling project. Due to a lack of a more organic mulch to control the weeds where (hopefully) the vines will sprawl... plastic! Because the previous tenants didn't use the garden, weeds are prolific. Hopefully all the nasty black plastic will smother them and next year will be easier. Meanwhile, I hoe away at the rest of the soil. Oh, and the marigolds? One of my mom's gardening tricks is to plant marigolds between tomatoes. The marigolds act as a natural pest-repellent. It works, too. The Japanese beetles have been massacring my poor daisies, but my tomatoes don't have a spot.  

I'll spare your eyes the trauma of a "before" picture of the front of my house. (Actually, I forgot to take one. But it's most definitely a mercy.) Grass grew right up to the steps, around the bushes... For one thing, it made the house look like a cracker box sitting on the ground. Not properly established, if you know what I mean. For another thing, mowing was a bear... and not a cute little panda, either. No matter how hard one tried to shove the mower under and around the bushes or into the crannies around the steps, a lush fringe of green remained. To top it off, the level of the grass being significantly higher than the walks, a nice long "skinned" strip graced the edge, like a bad haircut caused by a ridge in the skull. 

Using concrete blocks, bricks, and rocks I found at various locations on the property, I built a little retaining wall and proceeded to remove sod, a rewarding but monotonous process. My one hope is that all the earthworms I severed in the digging will happily grow into separate organisms and live happily ever after. The little dots of color are actually salvia, delphiniums, tickseed, moonflowers, and daisies. Once they mature, life will be more colorful. Meanwhile, my house looks happier... and I smile every time I pull into the driveway.

This was another Difficult to Mow area, which someone had partially remedied by laying an almost solid cover of flat rocks. "Almost" is key here. Grass had come up between the rocks, so I removed a few (both grass clumps and rocks) and planted hostas I brought with me from Lancaster. Thanks, Kathy! 

On the porch is my potted herb garden. The black pot in the distance contains my newest endeavor. I admired a friend's tea rose bush this morning, and she promptly cut a sweet rose for me. I read that honey can be used as an organic rooting hormone, and I hope the article was right. I wounded the bottom of the cutting, smeared it in honey, removed the lower leaves, immersed six inches of the cutting in loose potting soil, and inverted a container over the leafed, exposed end. The Rosebush Project has begun, adding to my family of growy things. :)

I wonder if Thomas More would hold that my pleasure in gardening is the release of an inner need? He (I'm sorry, the character he created to speak for him) maintains that the only real pleasures are the absence of discomfort and the the release of inner needs. Maybe I'm not enough of a narcissist, because I'm pretty sure some of my pleasures are a bit external, gifts I receive from beings and objects outside myself. Although it is possible I have an inner need to commune with said beings and objects. Hmm. More has some interesting things to say about asceticism, wealth, and ego, too.  If you've never read "Utopia", do. Sociology with a side of tongue-in-cheek humor at its best.

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