Starting a Garden

Well, I’ve lived in California for almost three years now. Now that we own our house I decided it was time to plant a garden.  Did you know that in California people BUY soil to plant a garden? I’m just used to that rich, dark Iowa soil that grows everything.  Well, I didn’t buy soil.  I just decided I would use miracle grow instead. 🙂  And to be economical I decided to buy seeds rather than buying the small plants that have been started for you already.  I can get many more plants with a lot less money, if I prosper.  I wanted to be successful with the seeds, so I bought a starter-grower thingy. Also known as a seed starter tray.  I planted tomatoes (the skinny little plants) and pumpkins (the big ones.)

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Then I ran out of room!  So the rest of the seeds will just have to go straight into the ground. While I left those plants to grow, I began digging up the weeds and grass for my garden.  I made a little bit of progress:

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So there is my partially dug up garden, which took a lot of work. There were a LOT of weeds.  First I dug it up and pulled the grass and weeds including their roots.  It was a lot of work.  But my little helpers, 2 year old Isaac, and 4 year old Abigail would take the weeds and put them in a pile for me.  Until they got bored, of course. Saraiah came over and helped me plant some seeds.  I purchased 10 year old Saraiah’s services as Mommy’s helper at my church’s silent auction.  So we planted cilantro, watermelon, and sweetcorn.  But alas, as I was digging up more of my garden to remove weeds I saw a long piece of grass about 2 feet outside my garden wiggle to and fro and then disappear into the ground! I took my shovel and slammed it into the ground as hard and deep as I could.  Did I get the rotten gopher? I do not know.  I brought the subject up to my husband, Josh, who promptly told me I better gopher-proof it.  *Sigh* More back-breaking work.  I did my research and decided the best course of action would be to dig up 8 inches of soil and lay down wire.  Josh had leftover wire from when he built an aviary in the back yard as a high-schooler, so I already had that at hand. (We live in the house Josh grew up in.) So I found boards to lay around the garden to staple the wire to so it wouldn’t shift. It was difficult since I had part of the garden already planted.   I couldn’t just dig out the entire garden, but had to do it piece by piece.  I had to be careful not to throw dirt on top of the already planted areas and I felt as though I ended up doing double work. Here is the first section completed.

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And what did I find as I dug? A gopher hole.  Running the entire length of my garden, smack dab in the center.  Now I’m very thankful to my husband for telling me to gopher-proof. Most of time I worked I had my wonderful helpers at my side.  Not that they were actually helped. Just observing.  Or getting in the way.  Abigail peppered me with questions, and repeated the questions when she ran out of new questions.  Why are we digging up the garden? To lay the wire.  Why do we need to lay wire? To keep the gophers out. Why do you want to keep the gophers out? Ahh!!! It about drove me nuts! But I know she’s just curious and it was a great time to explain about gophers, how they live, what they eat, etc.  Science lesson in the garden!  Abigail would also wander around and was rather a nuisance getting in my way, sitting where I wanted to dig, standing in the pile of dirt watching it cascade back into the already-dug area.  She did help dig slowly, since her shovel was only a small spade.   But she was helping – in her own way, even if she did end up putting dirt back where I had just dug it out.  Is that what God feels like? Watching us try to do something, thinking we are doing good when we are actually undoing the good that was there before? But anyway, back to the garden.  My legs are killing me.  My hands have blisters.  And Abigail’s inquisitive mind is coming up with question after question. But I made more progress! Pushing the dirt over the first section, digging out the second.  Then I ran out of wire. 😦

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Well, it’s getting there, and meanwhile Abigail came up with a new topic of conversation.  Jesus’ crucifixion. Since it’s Easter time, she has been hearing the story of Jesus’ death quite a bit.  Why did Jesus die? Why did they want to kill him? Did he have to die that way to save us from our sins? Did he want to die?  I was amazed at some of her questions.  Especially when some of them I had never thought of myself.  DID Jesus have to die on a cross to save us from our sins? My response: Ask your daddy, because I don’t know. But then the repetition begins again.  I just wanted to tell her to stop asking questions.  Yet it brings to mind Matthew 19:14, “But Jesus said, Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  Would I be hindering Abigail by refusing to answer her questions?

Back to the garden: so, the plants are growing.  What is growing? Sweetcorn!!!!! DSCN0128

I hope the gophers don’t destroy it.  (It’s in the non-gopher-proofed area.)

Now my husband comes to help, yay!  He wired the overlapping pieces together so there is virtually no way the gophers can get in.  He has been battling mice in our aviary and has learned that rodents are quite smart and can get through the smallest of cracks.  So now the wire is pretty tight and when pulled acts like one piece of wire.   So we can finally put the dirt back on!  And plant more plants!!   I did buy soil for my already-started tomatoes and pumpkins.   So I dug a small hole, filled it with store-bought soil and then planted the small plant in the soil.

Gopher-proof garden! (left side beyond the board buried is NOT gopher-proof)

Gopher-proof garden! (left side beyond the board buried is NOT gopher-proof)

Ahh…success.  Feels so good to see if after all that hard work!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Pumpkins - the kind that are great for baking

Pumpkins – the kind that are great for baking

Watermelon - in the non-gopher-proofed area

Watermelon – in the non-gopher-proofed area

Sweetcorn - it's getting bigger!!!

Sweetcorn – it’s getting bigger!!! With strawberry plants in the background.

The cilantro I planted still has not popped up.  I hope it will, I’m being patient.  Trying anyway.  And now my garden has turned into an experiment – since only half is gopher-proofed.  We shall see if the gopher proofing was worth it.  Do the gophers eat my watermelon and sweetcorn? Is the gopher-proofed area really gopher-proofed? We will find out in a couple months!

~Mindy~

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