My Green, Green Garden
I love to dream! And with all this "January" that has been going on I have been dreaming of a green, green garden! Anyone with me?!
Years ago, at our last house, I had a small vegetable garden tucked in next to our deck. It wasn't much, but a little plot of land to help me act out my inner farmer. For the few years I had it, the garden produced pretty well, except for some blight I had to battle, and it was great therapy for me! I learned to love digging in the dirt and getting my hands dirty. It was fun to plan out the new garden each year and learn what worked and what didn't. My young son worked along side me and it was pretty awesome to watch him get as excited as I did! It made us both proud to eat the harvest of all our hard work!
Things changed when we added a few more kids and moved to a new house. We said goodbye to the garden, and that was ok because, understandably, I didn't have much time for gardening. But, time has past, and we have been growing other things around here. My "young" son is now 6' 3" and my little babies aren't babies anymore, they are 4 and 6! Now they are talking about digging in the dirt and starting gardens of their own. So, the dream of building a big vegetable garden has been growing! (No pun intended!)
Our home sits on 12 acres, plenty of room to find a spot for a garden. A few years ago my husband worked hard clearing an area that was full of construction garbage left from the previous owner and was overgrown with weeds and underbrush. Then this past Thanksgiving he knocked down several small trees that were growing in the same area. His intention was that we would use the spot to plant a small orchard. There is already one pear tree there and we would like to add other fruit trees, especially apple, as a tribute to my Dad. (You can read more about my Dad's love of apple trees here.)
Here is a picture of the cleared land with our lone pear tree. Keep in mind it's all "Januaried" up.
Of course, with all this space my mind started dreaming of adding a garden to the mix too. This spot is so nice and large and gets tons of sun, I thought it would be perfect!
Actually I've been dreaming of a garden for a while now. As the years have passed, the dream has grown more and more. Even though we want something that is functional and laid out well with lots of sun and good soil, we also want something that is beautiful. The spot we cleared is what we stare at from our front porch and I don't want it to be an eyesore. I have this dream of a charming farmhouse garden with wild flowers around it and honeysuckle covering the trellis at the garden gate. I want it to be charming and inviting.
First of all, our soil is not the best. It is very rocky and what's left over is just clay. So my plan was to use raised beds. I've looked at a lot of different ideas and here are a few of them.
The one I liked the best was the bed made of 4 x 4's or 6 x 6's. They hold up really well and won't bow out from the soil and water like 2 x 6's or something like that will over the years. Plus they were easy to make and the best for the budget. And I just like the way they look, which is always a factor for me.
Then of course we had to decide on a fence, because we've been "blessed" with so many deer around here and a lot of other animals that would love to eat all my hard work. Fencing can be really expensive even if you do all the work yourself. We talked about different options but the one we liked best and the most cost effective was a rustic fence made from trees on our land. Something that hopefully would look like this...
And as long as I'm dreaming I wanted to add a small shed/greenhouse to the mix. I have always wanted a place that was all my own. Somewhere really cute and charming that I could keep my potting soil and garden tools nearby and also have a place to start seeds in the springtime. Of course the budget is always a factor so I thought, since my husband can build anything, he could build me something cost-effectively using old windows and a French door we already have and build a Dutch door in it for some character. Maybe something like this...
This one was built from old windows!
So I laid out the plan on paper and was really getting excited! I even started composting leaves and veggie scraps in January! I could see it all in my mind's eye. It was glorious!!
Then came my reality check. Pricing it out and talking it over with my husband! There is the lumber for the beds to pay for and all the hardware to hold them together, plus the amount of soil needed to fill them. Then we went over and over about the fencing, trying to decide what would last and be cost effective plus still look good and keep the deer out. Next was the greenhouse to discuss and the cost of that, not to mention the work (which he is usually up for all my craziness!). Then I needed mulch around the beds to keep the weeds down, which is a lot for a 40' x 25' garden. Plus I still need all the plants! Needless to say, it was more than we planned to spend. I thought maybe we could do it in stages, maybe some this year and some the next. But I can't put up the planting beds without a fence around it, everything would be eaten. Or if we did the fence first, what's the point of having a fence with nothing inside of it?
But the real deal breaker of all was that there is no water here. I could use a really long hose from the house but it would be a pain pulling it up and down. We have always talked about trenching a water line to this area but then it adds more expense, even if we do it ourselves.
So after a few days of mulling it over in my head, I decided I just had to let this dream go. It would be a lot of work and expense just for some vegetables that I could buy at the grocery store for much cheaper (although not as good)! It just wasn't doable for us at this time.
Even though it's silly, admittedly, I did shed a tear or two over it. It hurt! But I want to give thought to my ways. There are other dreams that we are committed to spending our time and money on right now. For one thing, we want to get and stay debt free. The money we would spend on this could be used to pay off one last debt we have for our daughter's college. We have other needs like fixing car issues that we've been putting off and buying a new bed and mattress for our daughter with special needs who has been having back problems. I need to live within the limits of reality. It hurts sometimes, but I can let go of one dream for something better.
And I don't have to let it go altogether. We have a small spot behind the rock garden that I started last year that is nice and sunny. It is a convenient place where I could fit a few planting beds.
The bonus is that it is right behind the water spigot that we added when we put in our new well a few years ago. It's not as grand and elaborate as my other dream, but it is doable. There's a wise old book that says...
Better one handful with tranquility (peace) than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:6
I would rather have a little of something good and real than trying to get a lot of something that takes away my peace and brings much trouble and hardship on my family. I'm not saying that dreaming big is a bad thing. I love it and will continue to do so! But I want to be happy with what I do have and accept the limitations of life, because in reality I am super blessed. Even if everything I hope for and dream about doesn't come into fruition.
I feel like I'm always talking about contentment on here because as a dreamer, it's something I struggle with. But maybe you can find some of that in your own life too? Maybe things aren't turning out how you imagined them to be. Maybe you have a child who is struggling or a spouse who is sick or financial struggles and you never thought your lives would take a turn in this direction? Trust me, I've been there. But, I hope you can find strength to keep going and are able to accept the way life really is and find the good even in the hard times. There are treasures in darkness if you look for it, isn't there?
It makes giving up my garden dream a lot easier when I look at it from that perspective. We will see what I actually end up with as far as the garden goes. I am just so tired of the grayness of this time of year, I feel like I'm about to bust! I need something new to dream about and build!! I guess this is why people take vacations!
Hope all is well in your neck of the woods! Please share with me your secrets to making it through this time of year and any hints you have for my garden!!