Friday, May 2

The Kids Are Alright

As I noted a few years back, my younger brothers were not gardening prodigies. But they have both come a long way since then. Both of "the boys"--and the wonderful women they lucked into marrying--have been growing small edible gardens at their rental housing for the past few years, much to my delight.

There has obviously been some branching out into the ornamental as well, as you can see in this succulent pot above. Also obvious here is that my brother, unlike me, has not inherited my mother's black thumb when it comes to growing aloe. Damn unfair genetics.

Jeff, the youngest, and his wife Amanda bought their first house this spring. The first thing he did was to refinish all of the wood floors on the second story before they moved in. They turned out beautifully, as you can see. (Be forewarned, Jeff: I'm definitely calling you for assistance when I want to redo mine in a few years!)

While other family members were asking about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, I was scoping out pictures of the yard, wondering where and whether they might tuck in a garden or two.

Maybe a week or more ago, I got a phone call from the kids. They were all excited for me to check out pictures of the new veggie garden they had started in the backyard, and I was of course excited to hear that they had started one!

The first picture shows the work from day 1. The garden is located at the back corner of their property, a good 8 feet or so in from the property line.

See all of the string? I'm sure there was a level involved, too... my brother's an engineer. And we all inherited our parents' common sense and general "If you're going to do it, you might as well do it right," attitude.

The bed is pretty ambitious in size, and big enough to hold lots of veggies. I knew that they were planning to build up the wall a bit more, but I was surprised when I saw this next picture a few days later.

5 rows of retaining wall block! This side of the yard sloped more than I'd thought. I wonder if this project just evolved into something larger, or if Jeff and Amanda knew that it was going to take this many bricks when they started?

With all that space to fill, they of course had to get some dirt delivered. I'm known around my neighborhood for getting a huge pile (6 yards) of Sweet Peet mulch delivered every spring, but the size of this pile of dirt is kind of daunting even to me.

I admit, I take my time mulching--sometimes parts of the pile are still there in the spring yet. But as you can see, Jeff & Amanda filled up the new garden in fairly short order:

They even finished off the garden bed with one last row of bricks on the top. Doesn't that look nice? I love that this looks like it should be a massive landscaping bed in a fancy park, and yet it's going to hold fruits and veggies... veggies are beautiful enough and deserving enough of such a lovely home, after all.

So what's going into the garden? I have yet to see the full list, but I know that some of the neighbor girls helped Amanda plant seeds the other day--and as a result, she's way ahead of schedule! See, Amanda is a big softie (that's part of what I love about her) and when the girls seemed disappointed that they were "already done," she went in and found more seeds for them to work on. Generation Y exposing today's kids to gardening.... that makes me very happy!

No word yet on whether the extra seeds will require a matching garden in the other corner of the backyard. If so, I'm guessing it won't be built until next spring--it will probably take that long for their aching backs to recover from all of this hard labor. As you can see, even Miss Molly, their usually indefatigable Golden Retriever, was pooped after this huge project.

Great job!

***Updated to add: I just spoke with Jeff, and there are actually 7 layers of block on the highest side. They used 300 blocks and moved 10 yards of dirt into the garden.***


garden girl said...

Wow! Very impressive! That's going to be a lovely garden. You must feel very proud of them.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This is great. All those blocks and that huge pile of dirt. Whew, wore me out just reading about it. I hope you update us with pictures of things growing here.

growingagardenindavis said...

That looks so nice...I hope we get to see the veggies! And it reminds me of what my mom used to say of my Ohio-born and raised dad..."he knows there are lots of ways to do things...he just doesn't understand why anyone would do it the WRONG way!" He would agree that they did it the right way!

Tina said...

Holy cow - go them!
That's a ton of work.
Nice that they're getting some kids involved. Hopefully the curosity will last until harvest, then they'll really be hooked. lol, and nagging their own parents into doing a veg garden too, maybe?
Here's hoping their enthusiasm is contagious.

Anonymous said...

Kim: I have been missing your posts but this one is special and well worth the wait! Kids and gardening, what a great combination! Someone once told me that they thought gardening was difficult because there was no immediate sense of gratification. How could they feel that way especially looking at that pristine planting bed. I know they have been doing it all wrong. It is the journey, not the destination. But the journey can be very satisfying. Kudos to your brother and his wife for instilling a love of working outside in their children.

Unknown said...

garden girl, I'm proud of all that hard work--but mostly just excited for them! They're going to have some fun, and be eating very well. :)

Greenbow Lisa, me too! I think my shoulders ached a little bit. Jeff's must have, too, because he made a point of saying that he took the picture of the dirt pile only after it was halfway gone. (Lest I think that pile showed ALL of the dirt he'd had to move... lol.)

Updates are a grand idea. I'll have to ask them to send me pictures throughout the summer.

Leslie, I have a feeling that both of our fathers would get along pretty well! *grin* And yeah, these two are definitely a couple of overachievers. :)

Tina, wouldn't that be great if it did get them hooked? Maybe it will be a good thing that they've started more seeds than they thought--they just may have a lot of sharing to do!

Layanee, it's been a tough spring here, between two jobs, the flu and then a sinus infection. The garden has gotten away from me a bit, even, but... we're getting there.

Amen to it being the journey, not the destination. That said, I think there must have been some immediate gratification (okay, immediate being within a week or so here) in seeing this lovely garden bed. They really did do a great job.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed that they jumped right in with such a large project. I have to admit I'd probably have tried a little 5x5 garden on a slope first to make sure I enjoyed gardening. I can't wait to see photos of their progress.

Jane O' said...

It looks like the gardening gene runs in the family. What a great project. Your brother's floors are fantastic. I wonder if he hires out to Michigan.

Sherry at the Zoo said...

Oh my goodness gracious! What a GORGEOUS bed! For first time gardeners? That is amazing! They are going to have a spectacular garden. Can't wait to come back and see pictures of this at harvest time.

Unknown said...

Heather, I'm impressed, too, and I started very small. Maybe 5x8 feet, with my first garden bed. But based on how large the yard is at their new place, this is probably a nice visual scale.

Jane Marie, lol! I'll ask--I get to see him tomorrow. *grin* He really did do an amazing job.

Sherry, I know, they're such overachievers! ;) I can't wait to visit them at harvest time... teehee.

Anonymous said...

Kim, that photo of Miss Molly surely does demonstrate how much was accomplished in making that magnificent bed.

"Generation Y exposing today's kids to gardening.... that makes me very happy" -- me too!!


chuck b. said...

That's a remarkable bed--bravo!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Wow they are dedicated to the task and it does look lovely. Makes me think that maybe I should outline my veggie patch in retaining blocks. Your brother has inspired me.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

And just in time for spring!

That first year of a new garden is always the most exciting. Tell them to take lots of pictures. Maybe they'll start their own garden blog.

Robin at Bumblebee

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I'm always in awe of people who plan a project, and then follow through and get it done. Our projects seem to get done in dribs & drabs. How great that Amanda is willing to nurture young gardeners. Garden mentors rock!

lisa said...

What a fantastic project for a family to undertake! I totally agree with the concept of teaching children to garden, especially in this economy. At least they won't ever go hungry, and it's just fun to grow things. (As we all know! :) I can't wait to see updates, I bet that bed will be booming by the end of June!

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