Grit Blogs > Joy in the Journey

The Ogden Community Garden: Planting a Seed

By Jennifer Nemec


Tags: Gardening, Community garden,

A photo of Jenn NemecI never thought it would be possible for me to be excited about a community garden. Planting a seed and watching it grow had never been high on my list. I was always looking forward to the next thing, never wanted to wait for anything. (Never my mind on where I was, what I was doing.) The theme of this year has been patience, however, and I've suddenly found that the time it takes for a seed to sprout and become viable feels much shorter than it did in my misspent youth.

Sunflower starts I planted.

I think part of my problem has been my perceived black thumb. Mountain Woman and I have things in common – not the least of which is, how did she say it? “There are those of us who know everything we touch turns brown. ... I walk into a nursery and plants shrivel as soon as I glance their way.” There was at least one incident in grade school with a plant in a Dixie cup, and probably another with a potato or an avocado seed.

Sunflower starts

And then there was the fuchsia. I still mourn the fuchsia just a little. I was living with my grandmother during graduate school, and the sweet guys I was working for part-time bought me the most gorgeous fuchsia for Secretary's Day (we still called it that back then). They knew me well enough not to hand me a bouquet of posies, but ... instead they picked out a touchy plant to give me. Lucky for the fuchsia, my grandmother took charge of it. I swear that plant had a more detailed social calendar than any human: a light misting first thing in the morning in the breakfast nook, then tea on the porch from 10 to 11:30, then back inside for cooler indirect sunlight during the midday heat – you get the idea. I swear it survived for years in a hanging basket in our living room. Then Grandma went into the hospital for about 10 days, and it was about day 6 before I remembered the fuchsia. It was brown and dead by the time I got to it. My fate as a black thumb seemed sealed.

Ogden Garden before we started

 But somehow when the call went out to help with the Ogden Garden I thought maybe I could help. I started thinking about the gardens I remember helping with as a child.

The first things we planted, sunflowers.

Picking and shelling peas (mmmm, fresh peas), pulling weeds, snapping beans. I felt like I spent hours and hours snapping beans – but how I'd love to sit still for an evening of conversation and snap beans now. (I know, Mom, all I did then was complain.) I remember how beautiful the dill was, the feathers of the asparagus late in the season. Rhubarb with the dirt still on. These images called to me.

The garden ready for seeds, with a few small plants put in.

Plus, what a great opportunity, some of the people who work here are well-known for their gardening abilities (Cheryl Long, editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, for example) – they’ll protect the plants from me, right?

Ogden Garden with a few plants

The photos in this post show our progress to date. Cheryl helped me plant sunflower starts (it was crazy how worried I was about those plants). We started with the grass next to the sign out front. We removed the grass, laid out our paths, added compost, tilled the compost in, and have finally started planting. (I have a new appreciation for anyone who handles sod.) The Kansas wind is taking its toll on our first baby plants, but I'll keep you posted on how they do.