Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Digging in the Dirt: Start Small by Dominica Myers

Jack and the starts!

Digging in the Dirt:
Start Small
by Dominica Myers

I could use a Dolly Parton moment these days when it comes to this whole gardening idea: that moment at your first Dolly Parton concert when the curtain drops and there she is, live and in dazzling rhinestone color, radiating love and down home happiness in all of her shining Dolly glory.  Right now I’m feeling more like a drunken frat boy at the local karaoke bar pretending he knows all the words to 9 to 5.

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but I’m definitely on gardening research overload. Seattle latched onto the urban farming thing years ago, and has managed to make raised beds, bean trellises, and compost piles look damn cool. I’m well behind the curve, and perhaps putting unfair pressure on myself to perform. But I’m sticking to it.

One of the community moms from my son Jack’s school loaned me a locally written gardening book. The advice from it that struck me most is to start small. Jack and I made a list of vegetables and fruits we like to eat. His list is not long, so this should be pretty easy – carrots, peas, corn, and strawberries. I added lettuce, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes. It’s a good start.

The chapter in the book on growing edibles in containers offered the best solution to our lack of soil, so I’ve been sorting through the empty kitty litter buckets from the laundry room to use for containers. One of the community dads also brought us two burlap sacks for growing potatoes in. This could be cool!

Empty buckets

I made a small list of the vegetables best to start planting in spring, and whether to use seeds or starts. I thought I could just pick them up from the gardening section of the local department store because they had a weekend sale. But I discovered there can be several confusing varieties of simple things like lettuce or tomato. The rows upon rows of starts were clearly labeled and organized, but in my sensory overloaded panic of “uh, which one do I get?” they all blended together. The shelves of tiny seed packets morphed into one giant packet of being kicked in the shins by the neighborhood veggie bully. Not to mention, Jack was now running, hopping, jumping, and weird noise blurting all up and down the aisle like those annoying children in grocery stores whose “inattentive” parents you swear you’ll never be.

I went home hungry, dismayed, and empty handed.

This next week’s tasks will consist of washing out the kitty litter buckets, placing them in my carport, and heading to the local family-owned nursery, where hopefully I’ll gain the courage to purchase at least one thing that grows…and plant it. Start small. Think Dolly and shine.

Seattle native, Dominica Myers, is a theatre artist, writer, and arts administrator. She lives just outside Seattle with her small family and two cats, and enjoys writing most when it rains.   Follow her on Twitter.

(Above photos by Dominica Myers)

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