From Pipi’s Pasture: The rewards of planting a garden
Yesterday, under the watchful eyes of the cows and calves in Pipi’s Pasture, Lyle tilled up the garden space. (Because the garden is in a fenced area next to the little pasture, the cows and calves were quick to notice what was going on. Since it’s so close to turn-out time, the cows are extra sensitive to the not-so-usual activities around them. After all, they might miss a ride to summer range.) Lyle drove the tractor up, down and across the garden, turning over soil, weeds and grass. As I went about my afternoon chores at the corral, I was making plans for using the garden space, perhaps changing the usual planting order and putting the corn where the onions and potatoes usually are and using the space by the apple tree for the squash and pumpkins.
I was also thinking about comments made by people I’ve talked to through the years who question the benefits of gardening. Why, they wonder, would anyone want to go to all the expense and time involved in putting in a garden and worrying about hail, frost, and hot winds when canned vegetables by the case lot are cheaper? I’ve never figured the total expenses involved in gardening, but I have figured out why I enjoy putting in a garden each year.
First of all, there’s the fun involved in planning a garden in January. That’s when the seed catalogs arrive in the mail. While snow flies, a gardener can pore over the catalogs, checking out the new varieties of fruits and vegetables. For example, this year’s catalogs offer Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes (red with chocolate shadings); a tomato that stays green even after it has ripened; rainbow-colored carrots; and Knucklehead Pumpkin that has warts on its skin. And consider a dwarf Fruit Cocktail Tree that produces six delicious fruits — all on one tree. It’s featured in the Burgess Seed Catalog.
Then once the garden is up, spending time there — even just an hour a day — makes me feel good. First, I get exercise when hoeing, bending to pull weeds, and dragging the hose around. Secondly, and perhaps the most important, is how good it feels to be out in the fresh air between 6 and 7 a.m. each morning, when the countryside is relatively quiet and I can share the garden with the robins and killdeer — sometimes even a frog.
As the water from the hose sprinkles the plants, I enjoy pulling weeds and hoeing dirt up around the vegetables. There’s something about the feel of the soil between my fingers and the earthy odor that gets my endorphins flowing — what a way to start the day. Equally rewarding is the feeling of accomplishment when I look back at those clean, weeded rows. They look so nice.
When the fruits and vegetables start coming in, it’s fun to find the first little zucchini, a partially-red tomato, or a row of green beans, ready for the picking. There’s a lot to be said for being able to eat a meal that’s made from almost completely homegrown produce (meat, too). It makes us feel proud.
So, as soon as the sun comes out again, I’ll be out in the garden, putting in the cold weather crops, such as onions, potatoes, and carrots. I hope you enjoy your garden, too.
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Next week, Colorado Northwestern Community College and Moffat County are hosting a free day-long seminar for local ranchers and agriculture producers.