Tag Archives: family gardening

STRAWBERRIES OBLIVIOUS TO PAIN

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with a painful pinched nerve that has given me sleepless nights, doctor visits, uncomfortable steps and one trip to the emergency room.

But try telling that to the garden.

While I have been down and almost out, the garden has continued its progress. The beans are starting to cling to the fence; the cucumbers are spreading on their hills; the corn plants are swirling out of the ground.

I limp, but the plants stand strong. I can’t squat and pick, but the strawberries continue to ripen. The garden needs daily attention that my body has been unable to provide. But my children and the Green Thumbs have come to the rescue.

On many afternoons as I have moved uncomfortably around the house, my sons have gone after school to check on the garden.

They return with reports such as, “We raked all the rows,” or “We decided not to water because it rained yesterday.”

They tell me who they see when they visit — our neighbors, the garden angel who coordinates the community project, other Green Thumbs.

One afternoon, they helped fellow gardeners plant more rows of peppers. On a weekend visit, they helped water the garden after one of the Green Thumbs fertilized the plants. They posted an American flag in the garden.

In addition, they have come home with containers full of strawberries. My oldest son has a special bowl that he likes to fill with the harvest because its bottom fits just right in the car cup holder, which prevents the generous amounts of berries from tipping over as he drives home.

Twice, he has spontaneously offered Solo cups full of the freshly-picked red fruit to others. One cup went to a farmer who shared her spinach, onions and radishes with our family. Another cup went to a friend who helped my son plant azaleas.

My youngest son added some of the strawberries that he and his brother picked to a spinach salad that we took to a cookout on  Memorial Day weekend.

Watching them enjoy and share the harvest makes me feel like I’m missing out. I want to dig in the dirt and be a part of what’s growing, too.

My sons plan to pick more strawberries and tend to the garden again this afternoon before they tackle their homework.

My pinched nerve still bothers me. I can’t squat or lift, and I’m not sure if I can rake. But I’m pretty sure I can stand and hold a water hose. So I’m going with them to the garden today to do my small part.

The strawberries won’t wait for me to heal, but observing their beauty and tasting their juice just might be the best medicine for my pinched nerve. The visit to the garden itself should make me feel better. Hopefully, I’ll be back to picking and weeding soon because, like the strawberries, the vegetables in the garden won’t pause for pain either.

–cawk

A LONG AND HARSH WINTER

The garden looks the way I feel – beaten, worn down and frozen – after the second snowiest winter on record.

The earth is almost a colorless brown. The dirt has formed wrinkles like it has aged.

Many months have passed since The Green Thumbs picked our last vegetable of 2013 and took down our fence at community garden plot No. 6.

At that time, fall was still dropping leaves, and lettuce was still growing. But we left the green salad leaves for the hungry deer and birds to scavenge. We had done all the gardening we could do. Jack Frost was ready to bite.

More than 18 snowstorms blew through our township over the winter months. Our families shoveled driveways and sidewalks. We put salt down and waited for the snow plows to come down our streets. The kids rejoiced and then went back to sleep each morning the superintendent called to announce that that school was closed due to inclement weather. Even on the too few sunny days, our children dodged icy spots on their way to the school bus because the arctic vortex and severe temperatures took hold. We bundled up with coats, gloves, hats and scarves when we ventured outside. We wore more boots than sneakers, more pants than skirts, more Chapstick than sunscreen. 

The winter was harsh and long. Our garden remained fallow and unattended.

In March, when the calendar finally turned to spring, I scooted over to the garden to take a look. The wind howled around my car. The battered American flag that we left in the center of our spot stood strong and whipping in the frigid gusts. Our row of strawberries remained marked off and almost unrecognizable in the barren field. Our lone blueberry bush reminded me of the stick arms of a snowman.

The conditions of Old Man Winter continue to linger even now. But in a few more weeks, The Green Thumbs plan to plant lettuce, onions, radishes and okra. We expect the fresh green sprouts to push the last remnants of winter away. Then we’ll add eggplant, herbs, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers to usher in the summer. 

The garden can sleep a little longer if it wants, but soon the sun will nudge it awake with longer days, and The Green Thumbs will be ready to go to work.

–cawk