Monday, April 5, 2010

In praise of gardening ...

My boys and I spent the day in the dirt. I had to reseed the grass, so we dug up the top layer of soil, added a soil amendment, and put down a grass patching material. Our native soils are rocky with a high clay content, but since I added a layer of topsoil last year, it was interesting to observe what came up in my spade. The boys were fascinated by the worms, grubs, rocks, and roots. I pondered why some shovelfuls were brown topsoil mixed with orange clay and some were all orange clay: a clear sign that some of last year's topsoil was missing. Where did the topsoil go? Our lawn is flat, so how did it wash away?

We all liked planting flowers in the front yard. Baby Princess watched us from her exersaucer. Each boy has his own pot and every year I let the boys pick out the types of flowers that they want to plant. We went to Home Depot and picked up whatever caught our eye. Little Brother chose a yellow-orange marigold and some light purple flowers this year. I'm partial to petunias and snapdragons so I have a couple of those in my pot. Kerm decided on a tomato plant in addition to his flowers. I really wanted to get him a strawberry planter, but I couldn't find one.

I keep intending to "go native" and grow native plants, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I wish that native plants were easier to find in the marketplace. Where I live, most gardening centers don't carry them. And I would need some help to get started, especially since I didn't grow up here and I'm not familiar with plants native to the Mid-Atlantic region.

I have to admit, for someone who likes gardening as much as I do, I don't know very much about flowers. But I know enough to show my boys how to "crack" the plastic bedding pots and gently tug on the flowers until the root balls of the plants are released. I showed the boys that you don't carry a plant by its flowers but instead hold the stem, just above the roots. I reminded them to break up the root ball before burying it into the newly dug soil. And after placed the flower pots onto the steps of our home, I watered both the plants and the kids.

The house looks ready for summer now. It was a good day.

Photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt, via flickr // CC BY 2.0