Garden Grunt


There’s a certain pleasure in being grunt labor for a garden. For one, it doesn’t involve much thinking. My wife, DyAnne, is the gardener in our family and she works out the math behind the plants. Occasionally, I’ll throw in a suggestion about fertilizer. I’d like to think I’m somewhat versed in piling it higher and deeper.
For another, I get to mess with power tools and play in the dirt. We got a new tiller that required assembly. I’m an instruction-follower, but I don’t know why. The manuals I come across usually leave out key directions and put the brakes on a project. So, I wing it, which typically calls for minimal thought. But with this tiller, the instructions flowed without a hitch from Step 1 through Step 36, Subsection 4B. I initially installed the handle upside down but recognized the error in time to make corrections before the situation spun out of control. As such, I’ve got a good feeling about this tiller. We haven’t started it yet, but I’m confident. The instructions recommended to wait on starting until closer to tilling time. That way the gas doesn’t sit too long and go stale. If it’s in the instructions, I’m willing to try it at least once.
Mother’s Day is our annual trip to area greenhouses for starter plants. In Northern Minnesota, we’re in plant-hardiness Zone 3. A rough rule of thumb around these parts is to purchase plants on Mother’s Day, but don’t be surprised if they’re not in the ground until Father’s Day.
My responsibilities at the greenhouse are to negotiate the chopped-out shopping cart that’s customized for plant transport through narrow, bumpy rows. Sometimes, Dy puts me in charge of procuring tomatoes because I can identify those without much help. Again, not a lot of thought here. I’m pleased with my growth since last year at recognizing some of our favorite herbs. I’m spot on with rosemary, not too bad at basil, but thyme can throw me on occasion. Most ornamental plants are out of my league. I make valiant guesses anyway.
Hanging out with the shopping cart is also a good place to people-watch. I see other grunts like me down the aisles doing the same thing. There’s something in our eyes when we lock on to each other’s gaze that silently speaks to the importance of our role. It’s good work if you can get it.
My greatest pleasure is simply observing Dy meticulously select plants. She examines them for bugs, checks for even color and calculates how best to ensure their survival until planting. It’s spiritual for her. She’s learned well from that quiet Beatle who was actually a gardener in disguise. George Harrison never claimed the soil and plant life were his. He just tended to them; the garden belongs to God.
Gardening for DyAnne is akin to hunting for me. If we’re lucky, harvest from the garden and harvest from the forest will combine in the physical realm in the form of recipes for the dinner table.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To help us prevent spam, please prove you're human by typing the words you see here.