Tales from the Newbie Gardener, Can You Dig It? Yes, I can

Tales from the Newbie Gardener, Can You Dig It? Yes, I can

Maybe it was the never-ending virtual meetings for work. Or perhaps it was trying to find more ways to keep the kids busy. Better yet, it could have been the stress and anxiety I felt as I “watched” both the healthcare and economic situation become increasingly dire.

Whatever it was, I needed SOMETHING to get out of my own head while I experienced both logistics and empathy overload. As someone that’s pretty in tune with the parenting niche of the internet, I can attest that the number of articles touting the need for self-care is vast and expanding. Typically, I’m all for team me-time, but in the throes of quarantine with two little kids, it’s just not happening.

It must have been my present concern for the food supply-chain that pushed me over the edge. “We should grow our own food” I told myself. “I’m sure I can figure it out.”

I had been “growing” a little indoor hydro garden for herbs that was doing well. This was likely because all I had to do was add the seed pods, and make sure to top off the plant food and water whenever the indicator lights came on. Naturally, I felt that I had the experience to become a full-blown farmer gardener.

Full disclosure, I did not know what I was doing. While I have a degree in Biology, most of my knowledge is theoretical. I can tell you what a plant needs from a cellular level. Need to know about chlorophyll or the Calvin cycle? I’m your girl. Sprouting, growing, and maintaining an actual plant? That’s a completely different story.

Undeterred by my lack of expertise, the helpful employees at Smith Berry Barn were able to supply me with all the necessary ingredients to start this brave new experiment.

I was told when I moved to the Pacific Northwest that berries will grow in abundance just about anywhere. In fact, the previous owner of our home had a bit of a green thumb and established a small strawberry patch in the backyard. So in addition to raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, I picked up several greens and herbs, trying to keep things practical.

My fears of food scarcity turned out to be fairly overblown since our home is a mere five minutes or so from many of the farms in Washington County. What started out at a means to placate my anxiety, turned out to be a real treat for the entire family. For me, there’s something therapeutic about digging in the dirt, pulling up the weeds, putting in something new, and watching it flourish. Maybe it’s the increase in my daily Vitamin D and physical activity, but I’m hooked.

My kids, almost 4 and 2-years-old, like to “help”. With such beautiful weather, I’m perfectly content on letting them dig. They pull up weeds (most of the time) and I tell myself they’re helping to aerate the soil. It’s a real treat to see new things grow. My preschool loves to monitor the plant progress and asking about the different kinds of plants. Here’s hoping some of the produce makes it through the summer. I’m banking on that being the key to getting her to eat more veggies.

We get to be outside, in the dirt, making things happen, together. And I can’t ask for more than that. Will all of our planting attempts be fruitful? Probably not, but we’ll have a good time in the process.

Even though I don’t really know what I’m doing, I keep pushing forward, doing the best I can. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much how I’m managing life, in general, these days.

Katie Carrick lives in Beaverton with her husband, two young children, and their yappy but loveable dog, Mendel. She’s a former clinical scientist who now works as a freelance writer. For more information visit mkcontentcreation.com.