Go Big or Go Home
Fifteen years ago I was ecstatic at the expanse of property behind our starter home—almost 3/4 of an acre. Long Island is one of the most congested parts of the northeastern U.S. Yet, happily, our entire development, once the site of potato farms as far as the eye could see, features property lots of this size. I studied the sun’s pattern and selected the best spot to plant. I attended a county agriculture extension workshop and recruited my spouse to rent a tiller. I marked out an ambitious plot of land for my first garden. The size? 50′ by 50′. Yes, you read that correctly. I started out eagerly; purchasing seedlings and dozens of packets of seeds. Armed with a shovel, spade and small pick axe, I followed behind my husband working the tiller. I made trenches and planted faster than a one-armed paperhanger. I grew up in New Jersey, and our motto is ‘go big or go home.’
That’s when I earned the nickname, Farmer Jenna. My spouse secretly snapped pictures of me mid-planting and put them on the refrigerator. He began to call me Farmer Jenna. My “garden”, honestly, was a small farm, a miniature version of those out east on the island. I planted row after row of standard vegetables for Zone 7a, plus, ever the optimist, asparagus seeds, knowing I would not see the fruit of that labor for three years. Being hubby was away often on business, I knew the responsibility for this plot was all on me.
I’m sure experienced vegetable gardeners are laughing at this point. I can join in your mirth now, but then? I was exhausted. It’s one thing to have a garden vision in your mind, and another to work it for real. Putting nutrients into soil. Watering by hand. Weeding. Watching little tendrils of green break through the dirt. Watering. Weeding. Mumbling under your breath at the thicker green plants shooting up through the soil and the never-ending crabgrass and dandelions. Watering. Weeding. Now hating with a passion the peppers, the tomatoes, the heads of lettuce that begin to burst forth like an overstuffed cornucopia. What to do with all these vegetables?
I earned new respect for those who care and nurture large gardens. I learned I am not that person.
Fast forward. I long ago gave up such ambitious back garden dreams, today opting instead for a small 8′ x 8′ square garden of perennials that bloom off one corner of my lawn-level deck, and another 4′ x 6′ size plot to the right of my front stoop, beneath our picture window. I enjoy selecting the varietals for maximum visual “pop” and scent. I’m especially excited now that perennials are on clearance at most garden centers, so I can fill in some bare spots.
But every so often, on a long summer night, you might just find me wandering along the back fence line, still searching for those long-awaited stalks of asparagus.
About the Author:
Jenna Victoria’s love of flower gardens began as a child, when she anxiously awaited the return of the colorful crocuses and fragrant lily-of-the-valley plants that bloomed each spring behind her childhood home. They still remain her favorite flowers. She writes sweet and inspirational romantic suspense and romance stories that “feed your faith.”