Grit Blogs > Red Pine Mountain

Yes You Can (Garden, That Is)

A photo of Mountain WomanGardens. We all love them, but there are some of us who don’t have a green thumb. We gaze at our neighbor’s gardens in wonder. “Why don’t you give it a try?” they say. We mumble something about killing everything we grow. Yes, there are those of us who know everything we touch turns brown and shrivels. But seed catalogs are arriving daily, magazines have fantastic “how to” articles and once again, you’re tempted to try growing your own produce but you don’t. “Not me. I just can’t,” you say. Well, that’s what I said too until last year and maybe, just maybe, if I share my story you’ll be encouraged to give that garden a try.

I don’t have a green thumb. I walk into a nursery and plants shrivel as soon as I glance their way. Vegetables? Forget it. That’s advanced gardening for sure. I resigned myself to shopping for produce at the grocery store. But Mountain Man changed my life. He’s a master gardener. Fresh asparagus in the spring, fresh vegetables all summer long, not to mention canned goods in the winter. Nothing can describe the taste of just picked produce. Oh, it was wonderful, and I learned what I’d been missing all those years. But Mountain Man was so competent and knowledgeable, I was intimidated and I gladly let him handle the garden. Until last year.

“Isn’t it time to start the seeds?” I asked Mountain Man

“I don’t have time this year, too many work commitments. We’ll just have to buy our produce.”

Produce from the store? No way. A few years of garden fresh vegetables had left me spoiled. I knew if we were going to have fresh vegetables than I’d just have to take care of the garden myself. But I didn’t want to tell Mountain Man my plans. He’d feel compelled to help, and he didn’t have time. I was on my own and scared.

I ordered organic seeds from a Vermont company, High Mowing Seeds. I decided to grow traditional tomatos, peppers, and cucumbers. But I also decided if I was going to be in charge of the garden, I was going to have pumpkins (I love Halloween) and giant sunflowers, too.

When the seeds arrived, I got to work potting and then waited for them to sprout. Day after day, I’d check for any sign of life convinced there would never be any. But sprout they did, and what a feeling, kind of like giving birth without the pain. I couldn’t keep my secret any longer. I ran yelling for Mountain Man, seedlings in tow.

“I have a surprise for you.”

“Better not be another dog,” Mountain Man said. (We have seven.)

Was he surprised and pleased. And he was proud of my efforts too. He helped me clear a place for my sunflower seeds.

Mountain Man prepares the earth for sunflower seeds.

And he brought me bucket loads of soil for my garden but after that it was up to me.

Mountain Man uses tractor to bring soil for my garden.

I prepared a spot for my pumpkins.

My pumpkin patch awaiting seeds.

With my whippet supervising closely.

Katie the Whippet watches me work on my garden.

Before I knew it, my pumpkins were growing.

Pumpkins in my garden starting to grow.

My tomatoes were thriving.

Tomatoes growing in greenhouse.

My peppers were coming along.

Peppers growing in greenhouse.

Even the cucumbers were cooperating.

Cucumbers growing in the greenhouse.

Soon, I had actual tomatoes.

Tomatoes ripening on the vine.

And pumpkins.

Pumpkins growing on the vine.

And my sunflowers were reaching towards the sky.

Sunflowers reaching towards the sky.

Best of all the bees, absent in the past couple of years, returned.

Bee on sunflower blossom.

Oh, I made mistakes along the way. The most serious one was when I transplanted my tomatoes too soon, they went into shock, and I almost lost them. But I learned so much along the way. Like making manure tea with fresh droppings provided by my mare. I learned about garden pests and how to use organic methods to treat them. But the most important thing I learned is that I can garden. Maybe not an award-winning garden worthy of fame, but a garden that fed us all summer and into the fall with the most wonderful produce imaginable: my produce. And I’ve been so encouraged by the joy of working in the soil that I’m expanding my garden next year. Mountain Man has already cleared an additional spot.

Mountain Man clears land for the expanded garden next year.

I have visions of growing enough vegetables to donate my produce to the local food bank and help feed others.

And if a city girl with a reputation for killing plants can successfully grow a garden, then you can too. Don’t let another year pass by. Get out there and have some fun. You’ll be glad you tried.