When we bought our house just over a year ago all I wanted to do was start a garden. Having been a chef for over a decade, I love food and have always wanted to grow my own. Of course being the pain in the a$$ that I am, I wanted to grow all sorts of specific varieties. I had big ideas.
But, as ADHDers we often have big ideas that either don’t get launched or turn into serious boondoggles without the proper planning. I like to think I’m a pretty together cat at this point in my life. So I set to my garden dreams by planning, planning, and planning some more. I got two books on gardening, one specific to the North East. (We live just outside Boston in Milton.) The other was about vertical gardening which maximizes the yield per square foot of garden space.
I read most of these books pretty thoroughly and realized that just plopping a garden down when we moved in would be a classic “rush into the doing stage” ADHD mistake. I learned three things that June. One, I needed to check my soil to see if it was right for what I wanted to grow. Two, I needed to understand where I could get full sun (at least 6 hours a day during the growing season.) And, three, it was too late to plant in June anyway. Maybe that last fact was a blessing? It forced me to delay my gratification until the next year at the earliest, and that gave me plenty of time to plan anyway.
So, step one was a soil sample. I followed the instructions on the UMass Agriculture site and sent it off. It only took about a week to get the horrible news. Our soil was fine in terms of PH to grow most of what I wanted. Unfortunately, it had so much lead in it that I couldn’t grow root crops, and shouldn’t even let my son play in the yard. (As a side note, this is not an uncommon problem in the North East with houses like mine that our pretty old. Years of scraping and repainting before lead paint was outlawed has left much of your soil contaminated. Our sample only cost $10. I would suggest knowing your lead level if you have children.)
Again, this forced me to be patient. I also didn’t know anything about how our property interacted with the sun throughout the year. Reason number three to be patient. The best garden in the world won’t grow without sun.
Here’s a picture of my overgrown “front yard” I took during my sun study. I’ll pick up the story of how it came to not be a hot mess in Part II.