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The snow has melted here in Indiana, and I am making plans for my very first vegetable garden of my own. I am living in my fourth house, and this is the first one where planting a garden makes any sense at all. The land is flat, unlike the lot that my last home sat upon. I’ll have to work around the ten large trees on the property, but there is enough space along the southern side of the garage and extending west along the drive for a medium sized vegetable garden.
I’m not exactly a stranger to gardens. When we lived in my second house, from 1985 to 1995, I kept an herb garden and a strawberry patch going the whole time we were there. Oh, and we had volunteer cherry tomatoes that returned every year, a remnant from the previous owners. But the house was right in town, with very little yard and less full sun. There wasn’t much to work with, and having two children who needed a little grass and a sandbox, I didn’t fight to expand.
My first house, on the other hand, had ideal space for a backyard garden. But we lived there so briefly that I never had the chance to dig in and get dirty. We moved in in the late fall and by the next spring, we were making plans to move out. The move was right, but leaving that big yard behind has been a regret ever since.
So here we are now. My children are grown or nearly grown, and I find myself in a little farmhouse on the edge of town with plenty of space, fertile ground, and one very sunny strip along the south side of the property. This is where we’ll put the garden.
The act of digging up the sod and preparing the soil is perhaps the most daunting. I’m energetic in spirit, but sometimes my body doesn’t live up to my mind’s expectations. Thankfully, I have two adult sons who live nearby and who have offered to help.
My oldest son Zac, who works in nearby Elkhart County (which is currently experiencing an 18 percent unemployment rate), is worried about the economic climate. With a small family of his own to support, he too thinks the garden is a good idea. And my daughter-in-law Jenni is perhaps this garden’s greatest advocate. We spent some time together yesterday alternately looking through seed packets at Walmart’s garden center and chasing down Jaxon, my grandson, who is nearly two.
This garden exists largely in my mind right now. But I have sown two small flats of 50 cells: one with Roma tomato seeds and the other with a lettuce mix (Summerlong Gourmet Mix, W. Atlee Burpee & Co.). My modest little farmhouse has an enclosed front sunporch with a shelf along the windows on all three sides, the perfect place for my trays to bask in the sunshine and soak up the rays. Unfortunately, the weather has turned cold here today (now down to 25 degrees F as I write this just before noon), so I’m bringing the trays inside to my kitchen counters until it warms above freezing, a small sacrifice if it’s a difference between sprouting and not sprouting.
Here’s a photo of my flats, taken right before I brought them inside from the sun porch.