The Thrill of Gardening

| 3/2/2010 4:47:15 PM

Tags: beginning gardening, first-time gardener, new garden, growing tomatoes, front-yard gardening,

Garden in front yardThe spring before last, I decided it was time to grow some food. I had the itch. I was sufficiently turned off by the idea of eating pesticide-laden food shipped to me by a faraway stranger and sufficiently inspired by the beauty of organic farmers-market produce. I didn’t have a ton of experience in the food-growing department. I’d helped my mom garden when I was small — but I could only recall two distinct memories from that time. One memory was of weeding (or trying to stay focused on weeding when there were bike rides to be had). The other was of teasing my tomato-loathing brother by popping cherry tomatoes in my mouth and running after him, dramatically proclaiming, “MMmmm!” as the juice ran down my chin.

Neither of these memories helped me all that much when it came time to get my hands dirty. So I began small — both in my hopes and my square footage. I decided to plant some tomatoes and some cucumbers in various neglected flower beds in my front and backyard (that were really just dirt beds plus one sad-looking rose bush).

As the spring and summer rolled on, I can only describe my first solo gardening experience in one way: thrilling. Not cliff-diving thrilling, or meet-the-love-of-your-life thrilling. It was similar to the thrill I get when I lay in the sun to read a book. The thrill of taking the time to do something beautiful and fulfilling and simply worthwhile. Even the weed picking, the sweaty afternoons working hard, and the small failures that occurred here and there (one of my beds wasn’t getting enough sun, for instance) all had their place and felt okay. Great, even.

My tomatoes were wonderful, and all the recipes I concocted because of their abundance were almost as thrilling as the growing itself: salsas, soups, stuffed tomatoes, bruschetta, sauces. Some delicious, some not-quite, but all worth the effort. Just like each plant.

The next spring, my boyfriend, Doug, and I went all in. We cleared the grass out of half our front yard and tilled it up, making way for higher hopes and more square footage. The act of tossing that sod in the wheelbarrow and staring at the bare dirt held so much potential. It held personal potential for me to grow as a gardener; it held the potential to grow all the veggies that would soon be planted there; and, perhaps most subtly, it held potential on a larger scale. Here was a young couple standing in their front yard in their cute, little neighborhood, saying, “To heck with the lawn. Let’s grow some food!”

What do you remember about your first gardening experience? Please post a comment below; we'd love to hear your stories.

3/30/2010 3:49:44 PM

I grew my first garden only about 5 years ago. It failed miserably. I knew I did not want any poisons on there, yet I did not know a single thing about mulching to avoid weeds or amending the soil with compost. My husband vehemently insisted that I add fertilizer (his friends tout their Miracle Grow experiences), but I resisted. I read more and learned more and eventually started adding grass clippings as mulch (which my husband agrued would cause grass to grow in the garden - it DID NOT). Anyway, FINALLY I have convinced him. We took a honey bee class, got 2 hives of bees last Spring and now we are in deep in our love this gardening experience. I still battle bugs and a few weeds, but I'M GETTING THERE and LOVING EVERY SECOND!

alice kaye
3/16/2010 10:25:57 AM

Great article and appropriate title: Some people might not get the "Thrill" part of gardening, but it is so true. Just getting your hands and fingers in the dirt and having something wonderful like "food" come from that toiling is thrilling.There is nothing like getting close to nature. Look forward to future articles and news.

the herbangardener
3/14/2010 10:18:34 PM

When I was in 8th grade, I dug up part of the back yard and grew an entire, fabulous, overwhelming flower garden entirely from seed all by myself. Staring at my masterpiece at the height of its glory was one of the most satisfying feelings ever! Now I'm into vegetables but that feeling is always there, year after year. From seed to is, indeed, thrilling!

3/5/2010 8:57:00 PM

My mother had a garden in the backyard when I was 5. I remember walking through, what I thought, was a large corn field (in actuality it was but a few rows). What a thrill to pretend I was walking through a jungle or through the Land of the Lost.

3/4/2010 1:41:37 PM

I'm in the process of creating (ok, really just inheriting and reviving) my first organic garden and it's definitely thrilling. I've got books and articles galore that I pore through, I meticulously water my seedlings daily with drops from my water battle and I actually clapped my hands when my basil, tomato and cucumber babies broke through the soil's surface. I'm hopeful the rest of my garden goes as well as my greenhouse starts have!

michelle walker
3/3/2010 2:14:16 PM

One of my uncles had a large garden in Kenilworth, NJ. I loved going to his house just because of that. He used to take me in the garden with him and I still remember the huge collard green plants. It's funny how things impress you and you don't realize it. My mother also had plants around the house. She used to take a sweet potato and sit part of it in water in the window and the growth that came out was beautiful. The moral of this story is...take your kids to a garden. It will impact their lives!

3/3/2010 11:05:23 AM

I used to chase my sister and throw salt at her and shout, "I'm in-salting you!" But I can hardly grow salt. I just hope my tomato plants are more successful this year.

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