I had visions of beautiful, lush flowers. I would also, plant enough vegetables to last us through the winter. Not knowing the slightest thing about flowers or vegetables, I began to study the seed packets.
Josh worked away all week. He was home on weekends only. I had a lot of time to myself. I ordered twenty mums. Bushel-basket size, it read.
Okay, ten out front. Ten down the driveway. They were funny-looking, little, bent sticks. I debated on which way was up. I decided to put the straight end down into the earth and let the little curve be up above. To this day, I don’t know if I did right.
I learned, it isn’t a simple matter of putting the end into the earth. A hole has to be dug.
The earth was hard and dry. I tried to dig with a tablespoon and bent it. I found an old, crowbar and I pried, wiggled and dug with that and with my bare hands.
I packed the earth back down and replaced chunks of grass I had torn up. I brushed away bees and fended off hornets and cursed at the black flies and moved away from the spiders. While I planted, I was also dancing and waving.
It took me one, whole day to plant twenty mums. I was exhausted, sweaty with black fingernails and sun-burnt. I showered and was too tired to eat. I fell asleep and never heard the crickets. But, I had done it.
The next day, I looked around. There was a lot of land. I looked through catalogues and placed another order. I was a sucker for punishment. Twenty, creeping myrtles. They were advertised, to have blue flowers on a green foliage.
For one, more day, I dug and danced and swatted. To the side, I planted myrtle. My nails were black. My arms were sunburnt. My hair was dried out and bleached by the sun.
I worked until each plant was in the earth. I stood and looked around and thought, how pretty the blue flowers would be. Also, the mums along the drive. They were going to be as big as a basket.
I smiled and thought of myself as beautifying the land. I was tired but proud. And once more, the crickets and the party the frogs threw, didn’t bother me.
It was the weekend and Josh was home. I showed him all my work and explained how the flowers would look.
Josh suggested, I should plant the vegetable seeds. It was time, he said.
‘I need a hat. And – my nails are ruined. I’ve been using your crowbar.’
A trip into ‘town’ as it was now called, gave me a straw hat, garden gloves and Josh even bought me a set of garden tools.
I was armed and almost ready. Weeks before, I had started tomato seeds in containers. They were growing. I had made them grow. I acted confident, as if I actually knew what I was doing.
I dug holes for the tomatoes. Carefully, I placed them into the earth and packed the soil around them. I planted peas, radishes, onions and cantalopes.
Josh rigged a long hose for me and when I wasn’t planting, I was watering. Vegetables and flowers.
A short story on the joys and woes of a first-time gardener.