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Monday May 2, 2005 // By Sandy

The greening of our thumbs

As decided at our condo board meeting last Monday, this was to be the weekend of yard work. The wood chips needed replenishing, the ground a re-tilling, and the weeds a good pulling. Yard work being something new to me—I wouldn’t say I lived a childhood of privilege, but there were certain manual labors that I managed to avoid—I was anxious to get my hands and knees dirty and dig in. Also, I’m fond of any activity that allows me to say “hand me the hoe” in all seriousness.

In the weeds

Things went pretty well, all things considered. Mother Nature was a little nasty, it being the first day of May, and the weather being more suited for March. The tilling and weeding and mulching went off without much incident, and there was the added fringe benefit of socializing with our neighbors, a couple of whom I’d actually never met before. All the major work got done by mid-day Sunday, giving us time to take a trip to the garden store to pick up this year’s crop of herbs and tomatoes.


Our investment in home gardening has grown every year. Last year we had two window boxes of herbs and a hanging pot of flowers. This year, we’re taking advantage of an twelve-by-four-foot plot of dirt behind our building. First dibs on it were called by the building’s five-year-old, who sprinkled sunflower and tomato seeds with abandon, like a gardener who’s discovered chaos theory. Through some internal politicking and compromising—much of which we were fortunately mere bystanders to—the plot got sectioned off so everyone could have some land. It was just like the land grabs of old, but without all the charming accents and gunslinging.

For the record, a list of what we’re attempting to grow this year (we = Sarah, me our neighbor J.): basil, dill, chives, oregano, cilantro, parsley, sage, rosemary, and (yes) thyme, green beans, and three kinds of tomatoes. We’ve also got a bunch of flowers, but flowers being a decidedly girly thing, I’ll let Sarah explain the details there.

Now, we wait. The tomatoes will take about two and a half months to mature, meaning we’re going to have a very sweet middle of July. The herbs should be ready sooner, if the weather warms up in time to avoid killing them all.

Meanwhile, our hamstrings are shot from all the squatting and kneeling done over the last two days. Every time I bend down, they’re screaming at me to stand the heck up. Mental note: next time, stretch before you weed.

I should keep a “Newfound Respect” list as I delve into activities I’ve never tried before. Newest additions: gardeners and farmers. I’ll have to remember to tip my hat to them and say thanks when we go shopping at the farmer’s market this year.

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