By: Amy MacNeil
In early May, while hemming and hawing over deciding when the weather would be safe enough to risk putting our precious seeds in the ground without the risk of freezing them, my sister called to see if I could take Alex for a few hours on Mother’s Day. (What mother of a toddler wouldn’t want a few hours to herself on her special day?!) And so I had my answer.
First, I had to prepare. Where would I put the seeds? I needed a raised garden bed, I decided, so I set out to buy one on line. Ugh, they’re expensive. Long story short, I smooth-talked my girlfriend to build one for me.
Next, I had to fill it with nice, fertile soil. Did I go and get this soil well ahead of time? No. On Mother’s Day, around 10:00am (about an hour before Alex was scheduled to arrive), I popped on over to the local garden center. Bad idea. I had no idea gardening centers were the destination of choice to Mothers all over the South Shore! With no parking in sight, I circled through the lot and was shocked at the length of the line. Pushing panic aside, I cruised on to Lowe’s, where the nice woman in the garden center tried not to snicker when, after politely listening to her tell me what my cheapest options were, I mentioned that I thought maybe I would try the organic soil instead. With the money that I could have saved buying the recommended soil, I loaded up on more herbs and a number of vegetable plants in case the seeds were duds.
Finally, I had to figure out how I was going to get both get the seeds and plants in the soil in a manner in which they had a chance to actually grow (i.e. not mashed by a 3 year old) while simultaneously engaging Alex in the process. As many aunts have done before (right?) I called in the big guns: Nana. (What mother of a 30-something wouldn’t want to spend a few hours on her special day helping out with babysitting and gardening in her daughter’s yard?!)
Arriving home 15 minutes after the specified meeting time, I found my sister and Alex on the front deck feeding an inch worm a goldfish cracker. After the inch worm’s snack and my sister was on her way, Alex and I got to work.
We carted both the soil and my newly purchased plants from the driveway to the garden bed. Then, we took a lemonade break as we chatted about the plants. After my Mom arrived, we donned baseball caps and garden gloves – a much more time consuming and difficult task then I had envisioned and I now know why mittens are such popular winter wear for children.
Gardening wear on and gear in place, we finally managed to get both the dirt and the seeds in the garden bed. Not nearly as many varieties as I had envisioned because as my mother kept reminding me, the seeds are going to grow into plants so they need to be spaced apart from one another. And later, after Alex and I had jammed in too many seeds in too small a space, a supportive “you can always thin them as they grow.”
So in the end, I think we’ll have sugar snap peas, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, onions and several kinds of lettuce that are grown from seed. In pots spread out around the yard, we’ll have tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, strawberries, blueberries and a lot of herbs!
To round off the day, Alex watered the seeds along with my mother and I before we all changed and got ready for a Mother’s Day cookout with the rest of the family. Here’s to hoping for a prosperous crop!
With the exception of a brief San Francisco stint, Amy MacNeill is a life-long South Shore resident living in Pembroke and a regular reader of edible South Shore. While she stumbled into flower gardening a few years ago, Amy has decided to make the leap to growing vegetables and fruits. Her 3 year old nephew Alex, who lives in Kingston, will be her partner in this adventure. Amy’s goal is to teach him about where food comes from and instill a love of veggies in him – he’s already a fruit fanatic!