growth – noun \ˈgrōth\

: a stage in the process of growing, “full growth”
: the process of growing
: progressive development
: increase, expansion, “growth of the oil industry”

On Saturday, Steve and I built our garden.

I could have said “planted” our garden, and that would have been true. Eventually, we dug holes in dirt and buried tiny seeds and the root balls of spindly plants.

But first, we literally built the garden.

A couple of weeks ago, we bought lumber and screws and created two 4-foot by 4-foot boxes. Then, Friday evening, after Chinese for dinner, we stopped at Lowes and bought organic compost and peat moss and vermiculite.

Saturday morning, we made an inspirational trip to the farmers market where we bought a few vegetable plants and a whole lot of actual vegetables that other people had grown. Afterwards, we stopped at Meijers for seeds and few other plants. Then, we came home and got to work.

With the wood boxes already built, we stapled weed cloth to the bottom, adding the compost, peat, and vermiculite to form a rich, fertile soil. Then, we carefully constructed a 4×4 grid across the top of the garden to complete our official square-foot garden.

I didn’t do much gardening last year other than a few tomato and pepper plants in a horse trough and a few herbs in plastic pots. I was glad to have some dirt to play in, but it didn’t feel like gardening. This year, we are growing eggplant, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, onions, spinach, carrots, peppers, green beans, zucchini, and peas. And after the first crop of broccoli and cabbage are done, I’ll swap out those plants for lettuce. If it all works out, with the 32-square feet now sitting in our backyard, we hope to have several nice summer-time suppers and maybe a few veggies for the freezer, too.


That much growth is a lot to expect from something we built ourselves from scratch. I worry that we are expecting too much. I go out every day to check the moisture level, to evaluate the stem growth, and to watch for signs of pests or predators. I know it’s too early for the seed germination, but I watch for that, too.

The first morning after we planted, I noticed our new blackberry bush around the corner looked a little harassed, so we added a small fence around it. Having seen a bunny in the yard over the weekend, we automatically added a two-foot tall wire fence around both of the vegetable beds.

Yesterday, during the gusty winds and rain, one of tomato plants fell over. When I went to secure it back in the soil, I realized the stem had broken. I pulled up the entire root ball and buried it deeper, hoping the weight of the soil would hold it together enough to heal. But I felt disheartened. “Let’s leave it for a couple of weeks to see it comes out of it,” I told Steve. “If not, we’ll have to replace it.” Today, when I looked out, I thought I noticed it standing a little taller. From another angle, it appeared down again.

I should know better than to worry about growth, though, to watch so closely that progress will likely go unnoticed. I can plant and water and weed and mend; I can make the proper placement and calculate the amount of sunlight. I can protect from predators, and spray for pests, but I can never make things grow.

My garden is reminding me of that.



Photo by jenny downing, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License; design by Charity Singleton Craig. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.