The need for a shovel seems obvious. Gardening is tough in a dry, high-altitude prairie covered in clay. It’s downright nuts to dream about planting when it takes a full day to dig a hole. Hence the need to work with nature. The clay holes we dig are really underground planter pots. Fill them with good soil, compost and voila, a nurturing container. Over time, strong roots will penetrate beyond the pot, but it’s a good start.
The need for a beer is less obvious. Surely we all get thirsty, but so do slugs, and I can think of no more suitable end for that nasty pumpkin-basil beer that invaded my garage in a beer variety pack. An old aluminum plate or frozen dinner tray buried at ground level is the right way to serve an unfortunate brew to those slimy garden monsters.
Finally the rubber boots. Here in the land of clay, water turn dirt into muddy slime. So if you want to protect your dress Converse All-Stars or that french pedicure, invest in rubber boots. They hose off to a fine shine and help you look the part – no matter how little you did in the garden that day, you look smashing.
Pull together all this important gear, and its’s time to get to work. Scope out the work you plan to do in your garden and cut it in half, because you’ll never get to it all before the bindweed stalls you cold. Once you arrive at your garden pull at the bindweed tying your onion stalks to the oregano and notice that the root extends nearly to Cheyenne. Make a mental note to get some Avenger tomorrow and forge ahead. As you approach the spot where the green beans and cauliflower were beginning to bloom, you see nothing, as in no plants. Recall those bunnies hopping around the yard yesterday, and start calculating exactly how much fencing it would take to build a Great Wall so you can start over.
So now you have a mental to-do list messing with the good vibes gardening supposedly brings. And you’ve just begun. Your boots and shovel are barely muddy and you cannot remember what you were even planning to do. Not muddy enough yet to convince your friends and family you need a break. Oh right, dig a trench for those sprouting potatoes and onions that are stinking up the pantry, good planting companions by the way. Foods that taste good together, seem to plant well together and it’s mostly true, except for potatoes and tomatoes. So an hour later, you’ve dug a big old trench, pulled ominously large cottonwood roots that have invaded underground, and buckets of bindweed. Definitely spray tomorrow. The sprouting onions and potatoes are layered nicely in place with the onion tops just above ground. You shovel all the dirt mixed with a little leftover compost over the top and note that it looks like a shallow grave.
Not that you didn’t love the neighbor’s dog, the one who barked all night until he disappeared last week. But now it’s got you going a little. Their patio overlooks your yard, your trenches. The gardening vibes are definitely gone, your boots and shovel are nicely muddy, you’ve got dirt caked on your sweat and a little twinge is starting in your lower back. The hardware store is open for a few more hours and you definitely look the part of hard-working gardener. Fencing, Avenger, more compost – ooh, maybe some winter kale seeds. But take a look at how great the garden is shaping up, one battle at a time, and there’s still half a pumpkin-basil beer – how bad can it be?