This spring, for the first time ever as a grown-up, home-owning woman, I will not be buying or setting out bedding plants. Shocking, I know, but, near as I can tell, the earth has not stopped spinning on its axis.
I’m not totally surprised. Years ago, as a newlywed of Ukrainian ancestry living on a farm with nothing but wide-open spaces, I decided NOT to plant a vegetable garden. Damn near had my papers revoked. It seemed positively sinful not to use the rich dark soil to grow fresh, unadulterated food for my family as generations before me had.
God knows in the early years, when we lived in a tiny house in town, I tried. I had a small plot and really, really tried. But I also worked and had a toddler. I also loved flowers more than potatoes. Or tomatoes. Those always struck me as particularly needy.
Sure, who doesn’t love standing in the garden shelling sweet succulent peas and popping handful after handful into your own or your kid’s mouth? But ? first you have to buy the seed for the right variety for your growing zone. Then you need to make laser-straight rows and push the seeds into the furrow just a couple inches apart?not too deep or too shallow, mind you. Tamp down the soil. Stay on top of the weeding and watering. Erect a small chicken wire fence for the delicate new plants to cling to. Avoid the mildew rot that plagues them if It’s too wet or the plants fall over. Other than that, no sweat.
In town, little old widows whose lives revolved around their gardens surrounded us. They were consumed with the rigors of planting, upkeep, and harvest. Often they complained that their second chest-sized freezer was already full; that the kids came out from the city wanting the fruits of their labours without having worked like the industrious ant (or little red hen) to earn the crop; that they had to haul the surplus to such and such a farmer’s hogs because nobody wanted it. Well, cry me a river.
I’m not sure this makes any sense from an economic standpoint, never mind the required gut-busting work usually done while swatting clouds of mosquitos, but That’s another story.
Fast forward to 2014. This year I ?invested? a hundred bucks in two sixteen-inch balls covered in plastic boxwood that I can pop into the cast iron planters on our steps. Is that not genius? No buying potting soil, no watering, no covering when frost threatens, no leggy or bedraggled parts needing pruning. All the planter beds are filled with reliable, hardy perennials so only weeding is required there.
So this year, another crazy busy year I can choose to leave all the patio pots in storage and make my life just a wee bit easier and guilt-free. If I have time to smell the flowers I can visit a friend, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..