As part of my search for a new career, the woman I’m working with has asked me to complete an exercise to identify my “transferrable skills”. In order to do this, I’m to write seven stories from my life that will (hopefully!) make those skills clear and obvious. So sit back and enjoy the stories; I’m sure you’ll learn something new about me.
My grandpa had a garden most of his life, and one of the favorite things about my visits to his home in Ohio was getting to walk the rows of his garden. When we bought our house in Seattle I knew I was going to finally have a garden. I’d never had a garden of my own before, and my parents hadn’t had one either (not a lot grows on the beach in Hawai’i) so I didn’t have any real idea of what was required.
The first thing I did was to buy a book specifically written for gardening west of the Cascade Mountains. The climate west of the Cascades is so unique, with soil that is so different than is found anywhere else, that it requires a very different approach than most U.S. gardeners are used to. For months before planting season I read and re-read that book, over and over, until I was fairly confident I was ready to try my hand at it. I spent a week or so using engineering paper to design my garden, with specific measurements between rows, labels for each kind of plant I was going to use, etc. I ordered my seeds online and was so excited when they came in the mail! It was like getting some mail-order stuff as a kid, like the fake diary that’s actually a safe inside.
I followed the book’s advice and started my garden by killing the grass in a part of the backyard that got the most sun, then manually tearing up the sod when it was time. I had to hire a guy to till the soil for me; I’d nearly killed myself removing the sod by hand! Once the soil was tilled and it was time to plant, I used a guiding string to place my vegetables in neat, orderly rows. I used organic ingredients to create my own fertilizer; it was more expensive, but I liked the idea of being as “green” and “organic” as I could be. After the seeds were in the ground I checked the garden every day after work for bugs and weeds, and kept the rows clear. I was like a kid on Christmas morning waiting to open the presents; the sprouts couldn’t come up fast enough for me!
After weeks of planting, weeding, pruning, and pest control, my garden was in full swing. I’d done such a good job, and over-planted to such a large degree, that I routinely brought fresh vegetables in to work and church. The whole process, while a lot of work, was fun for me because I got to learn something new, and then apply that knowledge to benefit my family. It was so amazing to watch all those veggies pop up out of the ground as if by magic! I got to watch each plant’s life cycle and taste the very real difference between fresh, organic vegetables and the stuff I was used to eating from the supermarket.