Easter 2008

Hope you all all had a nice Easter!  Things were quiet here: on Saturday I purchased my first power tool–a weed wacker.  It was only €30 but works really well (thank God Luca is an electrician because we would have spent €100 on a long-enough extension cord!).  On Sunday, armed with the wacker and a new shovel, we started cleaning up the garden in preparation for tilling.  Hopefully the garden scene will be a happier one this year.

We had Monday off and to celebrate fired up the barbeque for the first time in 2008.  It was a success.

My trip to the eye doctor on Saturday was also a success–my eyes have changed quite a bit since the last time I went, so I’ve got to get new contacts.  Strangely (I thought)  I can’t get them from the eye doctor, but have to find a store that sells them.  The hunt begins…

Woe is My “Garden”

Once again my attempts at farming are fruitless this year.  The pumpkins are dead.  Alas!

Next year I’m planning on planting lots of zinnias and cipolloti (spring onions). 

In An Octopus’ Garden

Well, Luca magically found the broken part on my computer and replaced it! Where would we be without him, I ask you.

I’ve decided I look absolutely horrrrrrendous in the color brown. Yuck! Just really not a good color on me (for future reference). You’d think it’d be a good color–dark, deep, rich chocolately brown. I’m wearing a brown shirt today that I got at the market in Alba last summer and I’ve pretty much decided that I won’t be wearing it again. *Sigh* Oh well. Life goes on.

I started transplanting my garden yesterday!! Woohoo! The tomatoes were starting to get bugs and one of the old guys in town said it was because they were just planted too close together. So I bit the big one and started burrowing with bare hands.

I know that the Zio (Luca’s great-uncle who lives next door–Battista is his real name) said I needed to work the soil more: until it has a finer crumb. But I don’t have time! And I don’t have the tools. And if I wait until I’m done working the soil it will be Christmas and tomatoes will be out of season.

I yanked all the grass and weeds out and tilled the whole damn plot by hand with Battista’s shovel from 1802. Did I tell you about the shovel? God, I need to take a picture. It seriously IS from 1802, I’m not even kidding. It’s half rotten and full of termite holes. Apparently the Zio wanted to get a new one this year but no one would let him: “You’re too old to be digging in the garden anyways! This one’s good enough for you to use until you die!”

Anyways, Zio let me borrow his shovel after…wait, let me start from the beginning.

The whole garden thing is basically my way of dealing with loneliness and the need for something stable in my life. I am not feeling sorry for myself, just looking at the facts. I’ve been roaming for the past six years–Napa, Las Vegas, Rochester, Piedmont–changing jobs every year–living away from home. The loneliness and instability should not be a big surprise after the lifestyle I’ve been leading of late.

If you plant a garden it pretty much means you’ve got to stay in one place for a while. I need to see some concrete positive results from the work I do. So in April I bought a bunch of seeds, a small raspberry plant, and the stump of a rose bush. I planted the seeds inside and nutured them.

I bought sage, thyme, rosemary, and lavendar plants.

They all died.

Luca knocked over my zucchini and parsley seedlings. They all died.

I needed to start clearing the land if I was ever going to plant my baby plants and reap the benefits of having an orto (vegetable garden). The problem was that my plot of land was a selvatic weed field that hadn’t been touched by anyone in over two years. (The dandelions were shoulder-high).

So, day by day, I cleared little pieces of the land–tearing out everything except a couple of plants that looked like some sort of green spinach-type thing that could be edible. (They’re called coste here; sort of like kale I suppose).

Everyone laughed and told me to let Luca do it. “That’s not work for you. Tell Luca to stop being lazy and come help you.” But Luca wasn’t being lazy. Luca wants to have Nothing to do with this garden. He hates plants and thinks they’re a real waste of time.

He’ll think differently when he tastes my sweet sweet tomatoes!!!

I kept going.

Eventually I had cleared a spot about 4 yards by 4 yards (chaos in the form of weeds and random wild flowers reigns around the borders). It was time to till. I bought a shiny new shovel at the store. On the short walk back to my house from the car, I felt proud carrying my new shovel in public. Finally, I thought, I’m like the rest of these people (80% of the people in our area farm for a living–they mostly grow grapes to make wine, but also regular farming), working the land! I may be American but that doesn’t mean I’m a wimp!

I started tilling my soon-to-be-garden with my new shovel. The ground was really hard, but I didn’t stop. You wouldn’t believe how many people stopped to see what I was doing. Everyone had some sort of comment to make. Most of the comments regarded my spanking-new shovel. “You can’t till with that thing! It’s not the right kind. I’ll lend you one that works better!” The last sentence was always said with a sort of “You oOBVIOUHSLY know NOOthing about gardening, I’ll show you how it’s done” attitude. Needless to say, no one brought me their shovel.

And then the Zio came into the garden.

And he didn’t come alone. In hand he had what I took to be some sort of ancient instrument of torture. It turns out that it was The Right Tool For Tilling.

The Zio’s garden is right next to mine. We share a big compost heap along the division line. He’s really a great guy. He showed me exactly how to use the tool (which I was convinced was going to break into splinters with every shove into that rock hard ground), and let me borrow it for three whole days. He explained that after I had finished with this tool, I would need to go over the whole plot again with another one that makes the earth finer.

And that brings us up to yesterday, when I decided that I just couldn’t wait any longer to make the earth finer. I needed to plant my plants already!!

Now I’ve got them planted, but I need to go and scavange for stakes to hold up my tomato plants. Right now I’m using chopsticks, but it’s sort of embarassing because all the other gardens around me have miniature trees holding up their tomato plants.

My Mom suggested using a sort of heavy-duty chicken wire. Maybe I can find some of that.

Until next time…

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