My son (#2) and I are working on building a vegetable garden. Right now, he is doing the backbreaking stuff- stacking cinderblocks for the beds, filling them with layers of wheat straw, dirt, other fine things. He is being paid, yes, because it is hard work, callouses-on-the-hands type and all. I am, in turn, feeding him while he’s here, and giving him a productive way to get in a good workout. now and then he will come inside and flex his muscles to show what a fine specimen of manhood he is becoming. There is something more interesting and attractive about fitness acquired through hard work, than that found at a gym.  Himself had that same sort of fitness from working construction when we met.  #2 has complained about only getting sun on his back tho, and I suggested that he do everything backwards. He opined that working like that would be less efficient. As an engineering student, efficiency is paramount.

The good news is that I am going to, finally, have the vegetable garden of my dreams. I wrote about it recently so I will try to not repeat myself. However, here are some pictures,  including the previously published “before” shot.

Where I want to put a bunch of raised beds, a white picket fence, and a greenhouse

Where I want to put a bunch of raised beds, a white picket fence, and a greenhouse


Here are some current pictures:



Some finished, more to fill, several more to construct.

Some finished, more to fill, several more to construct.

Wheat straw, peatmoss, cow manure

Wheat straw, peatmoss, cow manure

24 cubic yards of topsoil, and a bunch of cinderblocks

24 cubic yards of topsoil, and a bunch of cinderblocks

Another view

Another view


Have you ever noticed that there is no one more optimistic than a gardener? You stick a seed in the ground, with visions of a bountiful harvest of all sorts of delicious fresh vegetables. I am imagining tiny summer squash, skewered and grilled with a mop of olive oil and chopped herbs. Yard-long beans, snapped and steamed with a pat of butter melted over and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Bowls of fresh salad greens, roasted brussels sprouts tossed in balsamic vinegar, and next Spring, snow peas in a stir fry, English peas shelled and mixed in risotto,  arugula on a roast beef sandwich, sliced cucumbers pickled in white wine vinegar with a red onion, maybe even potatoes. I’ve never grown potatoes before, but love those tiny creamer potatoes from L&D Market.  Himself has requested sweet ‘taters, and #4 wants watermelons and cantaloupes. There will be many and varied peppers, from mild and pretty bells in many colors, to tiny and firey Thai things. I like to cook with peppers, make pepper sauce, dry them for addition to chili and all.

A greenhouse is in the works. a whole bunch of old windows was hijacked from Dad, but then he liberated them from a heap 18 years ago. The painter who was here instructed me on how to de- and re-glaze them, which would be the best way to clean up the metalwork, etc.  I am going to try to build the greenhouse for as little scratch as possible…..and still make it look pretty. Now that the painters are all done, I can set up under the portico (where it’s shady) and get to work. Sometime soon. heh.  #4 is always wanting to learn new things, maybe he can help!

One of the really nice things about all this work is getting outside. It is hot here. And humid. And hot. Right now the weather widget declares it’s 93F and sunny, so it feels like 98F. The humidity is “typical for June” which means it will either be raining by 4:00, or if it isn’t, the water will fall out of the sky, which is like rain only different.  I can’t explain how, but it is. Those who live in these conditions understand the difference.  So you are wondering “what’s so nice about getting out in that heat, anyway? Are you nuts or something?”  Well, it feels good. Really. On chronically achy persons, the heat just feels good. Oh sure, there is the unladylike sweating and subsequent aroma, but that’s why there’s soap. Also, have you ever noticed how much better the air conditioning feels when you’re hot from being outside? I know, that’s like hitting yourself with a hammer so it will feel good when you stop, except that this is more productive because eventually there will be food!

I remember many, many years ago, maybe 27 or so…it was not long after we married and Himself had graduated and got a Real Job. We lived out in the country, renting this failure of a house which had the sole bright spot of having a big sunny yard, and I put in a small garden. We had tomatoes, squash, eggplants, and peppers. It was nice having food like that, because we needed it. Himself’s job didn’t pay much at all, and I was pregnant and needed nutritious food. Somehow, God smiled on that garden and for the price of a few packs of seeds we had all the vegetables we could eat for many months. The garden now is more for fun that food, except that (hopefully) the food will be crazy fresh and delicious.

I remember the first time I had a fresh green pea from a garden…like moments fresh. I grew up on green peas, frozen ones that were cooked in a pot, and later in a microwave. I hated them, and developed the useful skill of swallowing an entire forkful without chewing. It is useful because now I take a big handful of pills every night, and can swallow them all at once without issues. Anyway, the fresh pea from the garden was a revelation. It was sweet, and green tasting, and aromatic in a gentle and unassuming way. I didn’t want to ruin them by over cooking or over seasoning, and wanted them to be happy. So, the first batch of English peas from the garden went into a creamy risotto, right at the end of cooking so they were warm without being cooked into some kind of flavor purgatory. It is still my favorite thing to do with fresh English peas. I will not freeze them, and only plant enough to have a cup or two, a couple of times a week, like a beautiful herb only little balls…you know what I mean. They go into things, rather than trying to stand on their own. Risottos, or tabbouleh, or some kind of cobbled together quinoa thing. Green peas are delicious with a grain, and some herbs, and maybe a bit of parmesan cheese or a drizzle of a grassy olive oil. Alone, they’re like…HI, I’M A PEA, REMEMBER ME? But in other stuff, they’re a rose tucked into a bouquet, or a pretty pillow on a fresh made bed, or blue toenail polish.

I am looking forward to next March, when there will be peas. Also, this November, for greens and brussells sprouts (another bane of my childhood, until I had them fresh and roasted with balsamic vinegar) and sweet potatoes and acorn squashes baked with butter and brown sugar and cinnamon.

Also, I am looking forward to sharing this stuff, either in recipes or with my kids. Because that’s what a garden is for!


About rootietoot

I do what I can.
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5 Responses to

  1. Judy says:

    This just makes me smile. After all the years I had of hard labor in the garden–which was fun really, to see you starting out in such a HUGE way and being so excited about it, just tickles my soul!!!! I envy you–kind of–well sorta–wishing I was still young enough to do it. Have a ball!!

    • rootietoot says:

      Thanks, Judy! I am hoping that this whole thing will be easier to keep than an in-the-ground garden. I have a massive page on Pinterest with all sorts of ideas and such, and subscriptions to a few gardening things with advice and helpful stuff. Last night Himself was talking to a coworker, who asked what I was up to. He didn’t really understand why I would want such a thing if I wasn’t intending to can all the time (I have no intention of canning, but that could change). Himself simply asked “Why do you spend so much money on golf?”

  2. Jo says:

    Really impressive. Looks great. I like the blog makeover too.
    But how will you keep the raccoons/bunnies/porcupines/etc. out of the garden?

    • Rootietoot says:

      Jo, I hAve no idea. During the day, the dogs are outside a lot and good at keeping critters away. As for the night ones, well…I don’t know. It has been suggested that adding human hair helps. So I might try that. Thank your for asking, I haven’t considered that AT ALL

  3. Bella Rum says:

    Those beds are something. Pattypan squash, we call them summer squash. I’ve never grilled them but I will try it this summer. We grill zucchini squash, though.

    I know what you mean about living in a house that you think you’ll be leaving soon. There are things I would do… then I think, but I won’t be here that long. Next thing you know, years have gone by. I do love a perennial bed, but they need sun, which is in very short supply in my yard.

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