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Another Portland Blog

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

 

The taste of victory

An excerpt from a recent series of text messages:


ME: Yep, it's what I was afraid of. We're gonna need a garden gnome. Maybe an adorable miniature windmill too.

SHANNA: Windmill!

ME: Just got to A-Boy. The windmills are $65. I'm heading to Rite-Aid.

SHANNA: $65?!! Whaaaa.....?

ME: Ok, they've got half-priced gnomes here. I bought an $8 Doc...er, "Seasonal Garden Gnome [That is in NO WAY A Rip-off Walt Disney's Snow White]."

SHANNA: Didn't they have normal gnomes? Like David the Gnome? WHERE'S DAVID?! >:I

ME: Doc's serving as his understudy. David is, uh, spending the season on the SS Steve Irwin fighting in the whale wars.

SHANNA: Lame.

ME: Doc's smart. He'll be able to get us a federal subsidy if the crops fail. Maybe get Neil Young and Willie Nelson to play a concert in my yard too.




What's this all about? Well, back in April my sister Shanna asked me if she and her boyfriend Kyle could build a "victory garden" in my yard. They currently live in an apartment complex where the owners frown on tenants growing onions in the middle of the parking lot, even if Michelle Obama endorses the concept.




It seems like everyone I know is into gardening lately. If they don't have a box full of veggies sitting in their backyard, they're renting a plot in a community garden. So I agreed to the plan under the condition that Shanna and Kyle A: pay for everything and B: let me dig into the lettuce whenever the mood strikes.

Over Mother's Day weekend, they made a run down to the Portland Farmers Market for starter plants and built a garden box in the front yard. My contribution: a pepper plant and a hops plant from the Livingscape Nursery.




Nearly two months later, the garden has, surprisingly, not turned into a complete disaster. Shanna and Kyle come over about once a week for maintenance and I keep everything watered. If I slack off, four water-filled wine bottles placed around the garden keep things from getting too dry. What's really amazing? Everything's still alive. Apparently, doing research beforehand, buying the right materials and not rushing things really does wonders when it comes to these sort of home improvement projects.




Unfortunately, there was no room for the hops plant so it's currently taking over the flower bed and the side of my house. Since it was planted, it has shot up to the roof and is now working its way around my rain gutter. Honestly, I was expecting this thing to die within a week. If the planet actually flowers, we'll have hops at our disposal (unlikely during the first season in the ground but this thing seems to be some sort of super-mutant). What the bloody hell are any of us going to do with hops?

Trying economic times or not, I was still initially skeptical about the renewed popularity of home gardens. Were the hassles of watering and weeding really worth it? Then, a few weeks ago, I walked out into my yard, grabbed some Romaine lettuce and dug in. Once you've tasted produce that fresh it's tough to go back to eating the pre-packaged salad packs from Fred Meyer.

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