Note: About a month ago, Carlos (age 12) and his Mom, asked me if I would help Carlos plant a garden. We began with a Spring Vegetable Garden in our Island’s newest Community Garden [snaps, designs and Carlos' garden projects - click here].
I set three goals today: 1) help Carlos’ organize his work flow; 2) help Carlos enjoy a sense of loyalty, pride and success in his vegetable plot; 3) help Carlos cultivate a sense of sharing and giving with his family and his community.
A list of what we need for gardening (left). And a list of what we are going to do.
Above: Carlos’ Spring Vegetable Garden, three weeks along. Peas are climbing, carrots and Chioggia beets are visible. A bag of radish seedlings is ready for washing and spicing a salad or a sandwich. It is Carlos’ first harvest from his first garden. Fitting for a holiday of renewal. (Photo by Carlos)
First, we gather our tools. Then, we make a list. First on our list every Sunday is Carlos’ Spring Vegetable Garden. Carlos cares for his garden (I am told) throughout the week. Watering. And watching.
Carlos thinned two short rows of thickly seeded radishes. Radish sprouts are delicious. They are ready to harvest in 2-3 weeks. Thinning is an eye-hand task. Thinning radishes is an Eternal task finding its way into everything else we do. Leave well enough alone. It looks easy.
For demonstration I thinned one clump. Carlos complimented me on my expertise. I then sat patiently, creating the impression I am an expert at small talk, too, while Carlos took the thin line of radishes for a walk. We can always thin more later.
Today, we discussed signs of knowing when a plant needs water, and when it seems the weather is sufficient. We scratched the dirt and looked. Carlos thought watering was called for. I expressed concern about root rot. This is Carlos’ decision. He deferred watering.
Next, we are on our way to Dave’s and Candy’s apartments. We knocked on Dave’s door, but he was not up and about. Candy was on her way to a holiday celebration. She had a few minutes to talk about her garden design. Dave joined us and we got some practice with a 25′ tape measure. (Above) Carlos’ drawing of a friendly garden design for the mobility challenged. Dave is excited about paving stones that will prevent his chair from sinking into the mud.
Above, Dave, Carlos and Beaulieu with planters installed at the corner this afternoon, protecting a new gardening area. Candy and Dave decided to share a spot in front of their apartments with enough sun for vegetables and flowers. Carlos helped with negotiations.
Routine is important for everybody. Carlos and I begin with organizing our tools. Then we make our list of tasks. These are S.M.A.R.T. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timely. We ask others their preferences (Realistic). We make a plan (Specific and Achievable). And a list (Measurable and Estimable) Timely. Now, planters are ready for dirt. Carlos and I carefully moved plants Candy had started in the hardpan and mulch.
Our gardens are our homes, too. Plants buffer our comings and goings in the world. Plants wish us well on our departure. Plants welcome us on our return. Plants nourish our bodies. We bring leaves and flowers indoors to brighten our spirits. Carlos’ design protects a vulnerable corner with sun where Candy and Dave have been trying to grow vegetables and flowers.
An inventory of the Deep reveals great good meaning in the guided gestures where I have expressed a token of gratitude to those who have bestowed on me gifts of love and fortune. Their generosity gives my heart substance in the world. Here on our Little Island of Public Housing, the art of giving a gift is in the appearance it did not happen.
Left, Carlos’ sketch for a planting design, and a key listing plants for his Grandmother’s garden. We carefully pruned the rhododendrons and vine maple. Just enough room to work comfortably and walk safely around the planters. We used a little water in the bottom of the planter to make sure it would drain toward the plug at the bottom. We filled the planter with a mix of planting compost and potting soil.
Above. Spring flower and herb garden for Carlos’ Grandmother. This is her view of the flowers when she is able to come outdoors.