Monday, May 08, 2006


Here’s another Canadian first for me. Yesterday, I actually did some gardening in a small fenced in area, about 8’ x 7’, in our front yard. I will mark this event as a milestone: Me gardening at midlife! 

I had been thinking about gardening, but what pushed me to actually do it was helping a dear friend weed her big backyard last Saturday. In doing so, I learned a few things about weeding.

“It’s just a matter of pulling, right?” I asked my friend.

“No, you have to dig. Otherwise you might leave the roots and the weeds will easily grow back,” she said.

She gave me a pair of gardening gloves, a trowel, and a stool, then led me to the backyard to show me where to start.

“Okay, which ones are the weeds?” I asked.

My friend laughed out loud, surprised by my ignorance. Frankly, I can’t always tell weeds from plants here in Canada. In our first house just weeks after our landing, I was very happy when flowers started blooming around our yard that first spring. One day, our landlord came by and asked why I wasn’t pulling a weed that had grown so tall beside our front door. “Oh, I didn’t know that was a weed…” (I know a Filipino, also new to Canada, who borrowed a vehicle and filled the trunk with dandelions for potting later. Hilarious!)

“These here are weeds, these are plants…” my friend began to orient me around.

“Are those weeds?” I pointed to a cluster.

“No, those are plants.”

“Are those weeds?” I pointed to another cluster.

“No, those are plants. These are weeds.” Realizing that her plants were in danger of being prematurely pulled from the ground, my friend led me to a big vegetable plot at the farther end of the yard.

“Okay, everything here is a weed,” she said.

I spent about two hours crouched in the garden. The scent of the grass and the soil brought happy thoughts I couldn’t exactly pinpoint from where or what. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Encouraged by this pleasant experience, I decided to work on my own hideous front yard and apply what I just learned. I was sure that everything in my yard was either a weed or trash so no worries about taking out something I shouldn't. It took me about three hours to clean the tiny space. I can't remember ever pulling so many weeds in one sitting. But surprisingly, I enjoyed it.

I was very pleased with what I had accomplished. How come I never liked gardening before? I wondered. I think I had the answer while washing my hands and they started itching. I recalled having badly infected eczema on my hands growing up in the Philippines. That was probably why I avoided getting my hands soiled--literally.

Here in Canada, it is wonderful to see flowers, vegetables and fruit trees start to grow in abundance around this time of year. I thought maybe it’s not too late to take up gardening as a hobby. I might yet discover my green thumb beneath my brown one. Besides, my eczema has not bothered me in a long time. I think I've outgrown it.

I will start planting some vegetables and herbs this week. Hopefully, I will remember to water them.


lhb said...

Good luck! and have fun. :-)

Somebody told me once about how to tell a weed from a good plant: Pull on it slowly. If it comes out easily, then it is not a weed. By then, it will also be dead!

My definition of a weed is something that grows where I didn't plant it. I'm even finding tulip bulbs in the middle of the grass. I wonder how they got there. They are still getting pulled out.

I just got in from pruning the apple tree in the backyard. It grows branches like a weed. My allergy to tree pollen started and I had to quit. Achoo!

My wife has some herbs in pots which we can bring outdoors for the summer and indoors for the winter. We have chives, mint, etc. all year round for when we make Vietnamese soup - "pho". We're just really cheap. :-)

lerryblossoms said...

I am done planting my veggies and herbs as of yesterday. I planted lettuce, green peas, 3 kinds of basil, 3 kinds of peppers, 2 kinds of tomatoes, and parsley all in that tiny area. mostly on the the ground, some in planters and pots.

if only half, or even one-fourth of these would actually grow and bear fruit, i would be ecstatic. i am just learning that i should have done more soil preparation. oh well, as my pastor love to say, "Anything I do well, I first had to do poorly."

I didn't know we can plant herbs all year round. That would be a good idea. Now I just need to know how to use them...

By the way, I learned from the Garden Centre yesterday that you use sterilized soil for indoor potting. Another good piece of information.

lhb said...

Hi Mrs. Blossoms,

Be a little optimistic! :-) You're expecting only "half or one-fourth" to succeed? Be prepared to give away the extra tomatoes. :-)

lhb said...

I feel so lucky today! I found two of the three upo seeds I planted have sprouted after all. They were just "sleeping" during the cold days and have finally awakened.

I have not planted any tomatoes but there it is - one really healthy plant growing on a corner. Probably a left-over from last season.