The Reluctant Gardener

I often joke that until I hit a certain milestone birthday (starts with a 5) I'm not going to do two things ladies of a certain age do: take a daily walk and garden. The daily walk is calling to me. The big birthday is only a few years away, so maybe that makes sense. Maybe I'll just take a few walks this year, and then more and more so I'm on target for being "A lady who walks." On the gardening front thought, I have been certain that will never happen. I have what is known (is it?) as a black thumb. My first houseplant, the one my grandmother gave me because she said it couldn't be killed, froze to my apartment window. I thought maybe marriage and a house would bring on some gardening instincts, but aside from planting some vinca that promptly absorbed our entire yard, it's been one big fight with the garden hose. And I'm the sopping wet loser every time.

However, maybe it's my age, or maybe it's fate, but I feel the pull of the trowel lately.

It all started last fall. We didn't wind up carving all of our pumpkins, and after Thanksgiving, when I really could not justify having a pumpkin on our front step, I had a pang. I could not just put these beautiful pumpkins in the trash, could I? We had a raised planting bed in the back from a failed attempt at strawberries a few years back (my husband's idea, but the woodland creatures in our backyard would not allow it.)So I just plopped a few pumpkins there. I figured the squirrels would eat them and maybe we'd have something else growing in the bed this spring. I'm kind of afraid of how big it's getting.

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Christmas brought terrariums for all the kids. I'm not sure what Santa was thinking. We couldn't really fill them until the warm weather, so they were slightly like receiving socks for the holidays (which we all did and enjoyed very much, so who cares). But they were such charming terrariums!When it warmed up a little, we went on a hike near Kitchell Pond and found some ferns, sticks and other flora to put inside and I think they are lovely.

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Then we got chickens. We've had chickens before, but it has been a few years, and I forgot how much that puts me out in the backyard. We also have a bunny who stays outside, and we moved both the bunny's hutch and the chicken coop across the yard from the back door (actually, under our nearly outgrown swing set. Repurposing is a theme when your kids' are adolescents).

And then there were some potted herbs I got for a mother's day gift, my oldest daughter's aloe vera plant and some tomatoes my husband usually tries to grow in the back each year. I found myself tending things. Watering them, even getting out the pruning shears on occasion.

Then, the mother lode: my in-law's fig tree showed up. My husband went over to their house and returned with this thing: a good size (maybe 3 or 4 feet) dripping with figs. I'm not sure why they don't want it, but we are it's guardian now, and I take that very seriously. It arrived root bound, so we repotted. I used the exactly one piece of gardening advice I have absorbed from my mother and made sure it we kept it well watered, "So it doesn't even know what happened." I think that's right. Also my mother in law mentioned a few weeks ago that the secret to getting a good crop of figs is to keep watering it all the time. When she said that, I attributed it to her age, and maybe I'm starting to tune in to that same frequency now.

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