Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beginning the garden

This year I’m particularly excited about spring because we’re beginning preliminary work on a little vegetable garden and finally I get to really be a part of it. Last year at this time, Owen was sitting on a big blanket outside and contentedly eating grass and dirt if you didn’t watch him like a hawk. So I wound up doing indoor domestic chores – always the drearier stuff – with Owen while Rob and Will did the bulk of our garden planting.

Granted our gardens have always been pretty modest ones – so far it’s just a collection of dirt, compost, leaves and manure in a small raised bed at the far end of our backyard-- but it’s still a great excuse to go outside and dig in the dirt with the boys. I enjoy watching Owen’s outdoor pastimes as we work. He digs a bit, sits in the dirt, opens and closes the gate to our backyard and aches to hold whatever garden tool Will currently has in his hands. Will meanwhile spends much more time doing what he considers to be serious yard work. But he also makes time for off-task play. Yesterday Will was highly amused to learn that we were adding poop to the garden and he and Owen took great joy in running around the yard with the empty manure bags while we mixed the stuff with the soil.

Now, having added appropriately processed poop, one of our primary challenges is to sort out how to prevent our cat Frances from adding her own fresh poop to the garden. When we had a larger garden a couple years ago, she decided to make it her litter box. Will had suggested building an elaborate fence with a door and a roof to keep Frances out at one point. Besides our reservations about putting a roof over a sun-hungry garden, Rob and I were feeling too lazy for fence-building. So we began looking online for strategies for keeping our cat Frances’s poop out of our garden.

Our favorite remedy was to add lion dung, which both repels cats and is great for the soil. But we weren’t sure where to acquire lion dung, so we opted for a simpler trick. Owen and Will and I went across the street and collected big pine cones from our neighbor’s yard, which boasts one of the most ancient, gigantic pine trees in town. So rather than building a big fence or going hunting for lion feces , we’re just going to line the soil with little prickly pinecone surprises that spoil Frances’s digging fun.

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