When will our garden grow?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the last frost date in Richmond was April 6. That means our garden is two days from being a month late.

The gutters are still doing great, but the only thing growing in the ground is grass and our neighbor’s liriope (which doesn’t seem to respect the boundaries of our fenced-in backyard).

Most of our backyard is shady, but there’s a small area that gets morning to afternoon sun. We’re planning to use most of that space for a vegetable garden.

When we first decided to plant a garden, Tom said he’d take a day off work and rent a tiller. Then one day Tom sent me this article and I knew the whole tiller thing wasn’t going to happen. I rolled my eyes. I turned over our last garden with a shovel. That space was smaller and the ground was softer. Even so, it was 8 hours of sweat, blisters, and resentment. I vowed I’d never do it again. If I have to endure childbirth, I’m not going to work against the cursed ground, too.

I told him about the pain and the sweat, but Tom was insistent. I warned him about the resentment that would boil up; resentment against the soil, the shovel, the vegetables, the cool breeze that blow every now and then and WOULD IT BE TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR A CONSTANT BREEZE!? He wasn’t deterred. Two weekends ago when he decided it was go time, there was nothing left for me to do but pour myself a glass of ice water and grab the camera to document his defeat.

This is the proposed garden site. See the shovel stuck three inches in the ground? That’s all the digging I did all day.

And this? This is Tom breaking ground. See how prepared he is with his boots and work gloves? When I did this I wore a tank top and probably started out in flip flops. But I do remember wearing sunscreen. Tom, my fair-skinned husband, was not wearing sunscreen. This is why we’re a great couple, our preparedness is so complimentary.

(He’s wearing safety glasses because he was simultaneously spraying a bee’s nest while tilling the garden.)

Here’s the how-to portion of this post. All we did was eyeball the space we wanted for the garden, and then turned over soil about 8-10 inches deep. Viola – garden! We don’t do raised beds or add a lot of stuff to the soil. In the past we’ve used organic matter from our compost bin, but this year the compost quite garden-ready. I’m not a staunchly organic gardener, so I might add some fertilizer. I’m also neither a professional nor experienced gardener; our garden is just one big experiment every year, and so far things have gone well. We’ll wait and see what happens this year.

Moments before breaking ground we realized we probably should have called Miss Utility. Instead, we called Tom’s dad. He agreed with us that there probably wasn’t anything to worry about. He was right, but for sake of the “how-to” portion of this post, you should probably call before you dig.

My mom was in town for a quick visit. We coerced her into lying on a blanket with the baby.

In less than 30 minutes (according to the timestamp on the photos), the plot looked like this.

30 minutes. That would have taken me at least 4 hours, not including snack breaks. I’m not sure what percentage faster he was working (I have a Liberal Arts degree. I could have three weeks to figure out that math problem and would have to guess in the end), but it’s safe to say this will no longer my task.

On the tough patches, Tom jumped on the shovel. This explains why he had better luck than me; I am far too delicate.

At this point there’s a big break in the photo timestamps. That’s because this is around the time I forced Tom down to put on sunscreen, and then my mom and I took a walk to Starbucks.

We had to go to Starbucks. You see, the baby was getting bored. And also, I am addicted to Java Chip Frappuccinos.

When we got back Tom had switched to the mattock.

He’s also gotten a ton done.

He started at 10 a.m., and by 1 p.m. the garden looked like this.

We did a little weeding, then covered the plot with a tarp to kill the grass.

This is how it’s looked for the past two weeks while we wait for a free weekend to put some plants in the ground. Or maybe a unicorn will fly in and finish the garden. Right now that seems just as feasible.

The bags of soil and wood are to hold the tarp down.

And you can only barely see the rain puddles of rain water in the tarp. Those are for breeding mosquitoes. Just keep that in mind if you happen to come to our house for a cookout this summer.


  1. ej_phillips May 4, 2012

    A. Muscle over Motor is for the birds. Really? My motto is "Why work harder when you can work smarter?" For reals. <br>B. Point A is probably why we don’t garden. Because there is a Farmer’s Market every Friday less than 5 mins from my house. <br>C. How do we get the lying on the blanket gig? That looks like something I could really get behind<br>D. Also, let it be known that every time EVERY TIME we go to clean out my car, Sloan wants to use the leaf blower to do it. It is strange to me how two men so opposite could both have such awesome taste in women.<br>E. I have no idea why you would ever use a leaf blower to clean out a car. Nuggets are far too heavy to be blown out of the back of a SUV…

  2. Grammy May 11, 2012

    lying on the blanket is the gig! except for when the fresh produce comes in!

  3. A Reeves June 29, 2012

    Great story! Love the shot of your hubby jumping onto the shovel. Good capture.

  4. Kelly June 29, 2012

    Darn, that looks like a lot of work! And now I’m craving a Java Chip Frapp too.

  5. Achieving Clarity June 29, 2012

    I am anxious to hear what you ended up planting? I have several green tomatoes currently. I spend about an hour a day staring at them and trying to will them to become red!

  6. Tiffany @No Ordinary Homestead June 30, 2012

    Wow. He rocked that yard! Hope your garden soon becomes wonderful for you. I know how difficult it can be to garden sometimes. We have one behind our barn that has been the bane of this house since we moved in. Although I love the rewards of the garden, I’m kinda looking forward to only being able to do a limited number of containers in our new place. 🙂

  7. […] responsibilities, he’s agreed to pick up the slack elsewhere. Cheer him on, ok? He did great the last time he took over a gardening responsibility, and he’ll do great […]


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