First you have to decide that this is going to happen. You are going to grow things. You have to understand that this will be a time suck, that money will be wasted, that things will die and be thrown away. That has to be ok with you. Now you can proceed.
The dirt that you already have in your garden or yard, the free dirt, is crap. Well – it’s probably crap. Dig down a little – is it dark? Does it have disgusting things creeping and/or crawling through it? Is it fragrant? If it is then you’re good. You only have to buy mulch and some plants or seeds. If not then this is about to get interesting.
Did I mention that I hate bugs? I hate worms too. I hate all of the icky creepy, crawly things that make a garden healthy. So yeah, of course I decided to garden as organically as possible. Because I’m NUTS.
I was lucky in that the woman who lived here before us had already built raised beds in our side yard. I bought a shovel and a wheelbarrow and started to dig. I can’t remember how long it took to get all of the used up, crappy dirt out of the bed. I do remember that somewhere in the middle I decided to only work on one bed this year because I may be nuts, but I have not gone totally round the bend yet.
So I got all the crap dirt out. Then I bought bags of good dirt and bags of compost and backs of mulch. In the meantime I had been saving eggshells and coffee grounds and veggie scraps in a gallon ziploc bag. I’d been ordering heirloom seeds online and had started them in organic seed starters. My kitchen table and living room looked like a greenhouse, there was dirt everywhere.
I put the good dirt in, mixed the kitchen nastiness in with it, added some organic boosters and gave the whole thing a good soaking once every other day for two weeks. Weeds started popping up and I was RUTHLESS about yanking them out. After all the time and money I had spent on the damn garden these crappy plants were not going to steal my super expensive nutrients.
Then came the check – I dug down into the dirt. There were worms, there were bugs, there was a whole other, extremely disgusting, world going on down there. I gagged and then did a happy dance. We were ready to plant!!!
Of course during all this time at least half of the plants that I had started from seed had died from over watering or under watering or some stupid crap that I did. So I filled in with some trips to Lowe’s. You know those jokes about how walking through the front door of Target somehow costs $300? That is me and Lowe’s. Still – I went, because I am weak.
I planted. I totally forgot to label what I had put where, so I have no idea what I planted, but there are plants in the ground. My tomatoes immediately started to turn brown and die. I Googled, I went to the store and asked for help, I tried a couple of things – they’re dead. I leave them in the garden to remind me that sometimes shit just happens.
My lettuce is starting to look like lettuce. The cilantro is recognizable. There are pods on my bean plants and the cucumbers have flowers on them. The onions and shallots are spearing through the ground and the mystery plants are looking good. I can see the garden from my kitchen window. I look out there a lot.
It is hard, it is expensive, it has taken work – a lot of work by me, but also work by Dork Dad. To keep it healthy I have to be vigilant. I have to make sure that it has everything it needs and I have to be ruthless about cutting out the things that can hurt it. I have to make peace with the creepy and the crawly because they are a part of it. I can’t ever stop working on it, loving it and caring for it or it will suffer. It is strong and nourishing, but it is also delicate and needs to be balanced.
When I can’t handle my depression or my anxiety directly I can go out to my garden – because I have recreated my mind out there. It is mysterious and alive, frightening and overwhelming, demanding and giving, fertile and fruitful and beautiful with dead things all around it and weeds threatening it constantly.
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