Sunday, September 30, 2012

Garden Tour: The Careful Gardener

Today's Garden Tour is a quiet, thoughtful, garden in the back of a comfortable cottage.  The tended gardener is always quick to say he's not fit to give advice, but his raspberries look about forty-eight thousand times better than mine, and they speak louder than him.

Having a grandparent endure when you yourself forge into motherhood is a good thing.  You get that eternal perspective and want to know about their life, instead of wanting to avoid their crunching shoulder hugs (when you're a kid).  

My own sweet Grandma Cooper made it through 3 of my own kids, but marrying into the Olsen Fam scored me the persistent grandparent influence that continues today.   So yeah, in case it wasn't obvious, this is The Mister's Grandpa (and Grandma).  He's the Gardener, so let's have a visit shall we?

There's something about the industry of this garden that is wonderful.  Grandpa amends the soil every year with his own compost.  Grass clippings from the yard mulch paths to retain water and suppress weeds.  

PVC pipes section off areas of the garden and different connectors bring water to drip-lines holding culinary water.  No water waste, a direct drink right to the plant. This also helped him to completely stop watering his onions in July so they were sweetened and hardened off in time (mine are still green).  While the onions were sweetening in their drought, corn and squash kept getting the water they needed.

In case you sit on your tooshie all day on the computer, or live under a rock, this summer has been brutal in the dry and hot department.  I assumed he was watering his garden everyday to beat the heat, so I asked: How often do you water?

He said it was only every 3-4 days!  I just look at the squash, and when they look like this:

I watered them.

When he was a squash, he didn't say he was kinda thirsty.  That was Mrs. Olsen superimposing herself as thirsty squash.  Grandpa was 100% body language, and it made me laugh.

Works for me!

How old would you say this tool is?  See the smooth stained grain? The clear strong tines?  How old? How old?  

Here's another look:

What if I told you this tool was over 60 years old?  Would you believe me?

Because it is that old!  He's had it for years and years (same with his wheelbarrow, and a bunch of other stuff!).  I've had a rake for 10 years and the handle has already rotted out.  Why?  Because I get an urge, I rake, whack the weeds, then I remember I have sour laundry (or hear chocolate) and run into the house.  Later I can't find my rake and it's rotting in the garden getting watered every day.

This could be in part a lesson about how things were made better in the olden days, but if that's all you want to focus on then you're missing out.  I figured that if you're an impatient jerk then go to McDonald's instead of helping Grandpa in the garden.  Because he will rake, or till, or dump, then he will take that carefully coiled hose and wash every speck of dirt off.  Chocolate doesn't speak to him until he's finished what he set out to do!  He leaves it to dry on the hook, and a few hours later puts it away in his garden shed.

Also don't forget a new coat of varnish on the wood handles every year.

So he hangs onto things, and not in an unhealthy hoarder kind of way.  He's my careful, thoughtful gardener.  He's the same way with human relationships.

The same care is taken with his fruit trees.  He didn't necessarily love having pictures taken of all his hooks and jimmy-rigging to train the branches, but it serves my point right?  

God bless the kid that mows this lawn every week.

  Cantaloupe trained on a fence.

Some crazy melon he's growing (can't remember the name)

Here's his favorite tomato.  It's small and ripens to a glorious orange.  It was bigger than him and was delicious!

So in all this care, pruning, guiding, cleaning, drying, watering, I marvel at Grandpa's garden knowledge and persistence to do the job right.  Weeds aren't given much of a chance because he does a little work every day.

I think what amazes me most when I eat the fruits of The Careful Gardener's labors is that he's doing all of this while his hands are shaking all over the place.  Not sure why such a gentle soul needed a lesson in patience, but he's mastering it with shiny stars.

I like this picture because he was holding out his favorite tomato to show me.  The front is out of focus because his hands start doing their little dance.

A shaky hand never tended so steadily.  Heck, a steady hand never tended with such precision.

I don't want to leave the impression that Grandpa does all this work himself.  After their bounty is brought into the house, Grandma still prepares and preserves their fruits.  Here's the storage room with a line of peaches right from their yard.

He grows 'em.  She washes, skins, pits, slices, packs, and cans them.  Who has the tougher job here?
 Grape juice too!

She also cans pears from their tree.

Wait, what's that Grandpa?  Is that a mouse?

"Oh she put that down here to trick me. Scared me half to death."

Aren't they cute?


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to two beautiful people. Why don't I like to can any more? Love from your Mom

Mr. Olsen said...

Thank you for this post. They are such great people, I am happy to see this highlight of them. What precious memories I have had in that garden!

Aimee said...

A post so very dear to my heart! Thank you for preserving this sweet story. I love your pictures Amber!...especially the drooping plant and the last one. What an amazing couple!

Janet O. said...

Oh, Amber, bless you! I have intended most every week to get photos of Grandpa and his garden this summer, but have failed to remember to do it. There is so much to learn from him, and you have captured this aspect of it beautifully!

Holly said...

You got me. I totally got teary eyed. I miss those beautiful people. Thanks, Amber!

Angenette said...

That's the cutest blog I've ever seen. Makes me want to garden and be old with Dan.

jennaloha said...

Now that's adorable!