As a child, my parents would frequently take me outside in the summer to pull weeds (dandelions were an absolute no-no for our yard... no blowing the white puff balls for us!), water the tomato plants, pull up the endless new maple trees sprouting up all over the place every year... I wasn't a big fan. But, it built character, right? ;)
So, last fall, Daniel and I planted irises from my parents' yard in our back yard along the fence between our yard and our neighbor's yard. We meticulously spaced them and tried to make sure we did everything right. When spring came, there was no iris bed to be seen for all the leaves and weeds... two words... chick weed... So on a warm spring day, at about 7 months pregnant, I dragged the stroller to our back yard, put Patrick in it, and rummaged around in the basement to find my gardening gloves - a kind gift from my mom. After some hunting - I'd never needed them before - I found them and out Patrick and I went. I pulled weeds for an hour........ I eventually found those little irises poking their way through the over-crowded soil, cleared out as much as I could to make room for the irises (I was 7 months pregnant after all) and let it be. I took Patrick inside and put him down for his nap and then it hit me... of my own accord, I had been outside pulling weeds. And, I enjoyed it. (Sometime around Erin's birth, the irises bloomed and they were beautiful!)
Since the rise in produce costs, I've been thinking through reasonably easy ways to grow our own "crops" next year. I don't want anything fancy or complicated - just something that won't take much time to tend to, but something we're likely to enjoy and use. I figured why not garlic and tomatoes? I use both all the time in my cooking. Of course, in order to make this work, we have to start planning now. (Garlic is planted in the fall, so I'm cutting it close!)
Yesterday, Daniel, Erin and I went outside during Patrick's nap time and we worked in the yard. Daniel raked leaves in the front yard while I donned my gardening gloves and started uprooting grass and weeds where I intend to plant tomatoes and garlic in the back yard. I simply extended the iris bed farther down our neighbor's fence and also down our back fence. The intent was for the garlic to go in the back and the tomatoes to go on the side. Once Daniel was done raking in the front, he came back to help clear out the iris bed and to uproot any stubborn weeds. Basically, he tilled the soil after I cleared it out. The only true setback is that the soil where I was going to plant the garlic is extremely rocky, so I'm not sure I'll be planting there this year. We may get some topsoil, but haven't decided for sure yet.
Edit: Okay, so lest you think I'm a mindless dunce, I had an epiphany just a few moments ago. Garlic is planted in the FALL, tomatoes are planted in late SPRING... lets see, use the same plot for both crops?! Brilliant... crop rotation. :)
Once the beds were finished, Daniel proceeded to bring the leaves from the front to the back where I have my compost pile (this is a new thing I've started since I realized we're going to be "gardening" next year). I grabbed the leaf blower - well, once Daniel got it started for me :-p - and moved most of the leaves around the back yard to the compost piles, too. We now have two large, 2ish foot high piles of decaying leaves in our back yard in hopes of using them to provide good, rich soil for our plants next year.
When it was all said and done, Daniel and Erin (she played remarkably well in her stroller the entire time we worked) and I were outside for about 2 hours and we got a lot done. Not only that, but we enjoyed seeing the fruit of our labor.
Who would have thought I'd ever enjoy yard work?!? :) Thanks, Dad and Mom!