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Gardenscapes Year Zero

There are a gazillion things to do – with us having to empty the house in preparation for the renovations that are supposed to take place over the summer and packing for the summer home, but I get overwhelmed every time I look around and outside the house. I’ve taken to doing two hours of yard work as soon as I wake up and doing another hour or so in the evenings before the sun sets, which is around 9 pm because I feel that as long as I’ve done something related to gardening, I have been productive.

I have grand plans for the garden. The perimeter fence should be covered in climbing plants, jasmine, roses, and hedera; and there should be some mid-height plants in between the border plants. I have to make the borders myself so I’m moving soil all over the place.

When we did an ocular of this property, the groundskeeper pointed to a spot on one side of the garden near the back fence and said it was the place for an orto, which is the Italian term for a vegetable patch; but after doing work on the soil, I have come to the conclusion that judging by the number of rocks and broken pieces of pottery I have been unearthing, there was no way that this corner used to be a vegetable patch. Also, the sun rises on the other side of the hill so it actually is the last place to get the sun. If I was to put up an orto on this spot, and considering I can only do this from September to May when the days are short, my plants wouldn’t get the maximum number of sun hours per day – which brings me to the question, “What plants can I actually grow here?”

While I was away and in the Philippines, we had a professional gardener do work on our property. Francesco was basically redoing the irrigation system, sourcing and planting the fruit trees, removing trees and shrubs that did not give me joy, resowing the patch of lawn that my husband insisted we leave for him to enjoy kicking a ball with our son, and at the very end, turn the soil all over with the help of a machine, the name of which I cannot identify for you (my dear readers) LOL. The soil is mostly clay and it was rock hard, so that machine was really helpful in turning over the soil.

But now, a month later, I’ve barely done any work so when the wind blows, so does sand, all over the place, and into the house, and everything else. This just pushes me towards motivation to work on the garden.

I have this feeling that my daughter watches me with resentment whenever I work in the garden, and there I am, raking soil from one place to the other while discussing to myself the actual reasons why this must be my utmost priority. More than organizing the mess in the house, doing laundry, or making a new dish for every meal and just ignoring the mounting containers of leftovers in the refrigerator, or curling her hair.

One, plants are important. They cost money. If I don’t replant them as early as possible they will die. Dead plants equal lost money and sad me, therefore, it is a priority. The inanimate objects in boxes, half-filled suitcases, random containers, and plastic bags, will not die if I don’t fix them right away. They’re already dead. I’m kidding but not kidding, but you get what I mean.

Two, the longer I wait to rake this soil to flat perfection, the harder it will become. Like the soil will really get hard and I will be left with an uneven garden that I will have to manually dig out with Mesopotamian-era tools unless I want the machine to be brought back.

Three, the sand swirls in the air when the wind blows, as I can really see it in the air, which makes me think I’m in the Dune movie, which wouldn’t be so bad if there is actually Timothee Chalamet somewhere around, because gosh, I have this huge crush on this man with the androgynous face and my husband knows it and he thinks it’s hilarious. Seriously, the sand blows into the house and I find myself doing more and more brooming because nobody should ever go to bed with brown feet. The robot vacuum is probably the stupidest device ever invented and I kid you not because it goes over the same spot over and over and just ignores the other dirty places, like who does that? Willfully ignore dirty patches in the middle of the room – only a robot vacuum ladies and gentlemen. Or maybe I have to read the manual, which is somewhere in this mess of a house. On second thought, I can name more than a few actual human beings also capable of willfully ignoring dirty patches in the middle of the room so I take back everything I just said in the second half of this entire paragraph.

I follow this page on Facebook called Humans Grow Food because I find a lot of inspiration from other gardeners around the world, and also because secretly, my goal is to get featured there myself but now that I’ve written about it it’s not a secret anymore, but as I said, writing it down is a good plan, and I see these people who write that this is my second year of gardening, and holy moly, I don’t know if they work alone or with a team of other professional gardeners because I can already tell that my garden won’t look anywhere near like that on my second year! It’s nevertheless a worthy aspiration but by god, people should really be more realistic on social media. Hoho!

Realistically, I see myself still unearthing rocks, pieces of broken pottery, broken glasses, electric plugs, plastic wiring, and all that sheep, way until my second year of gardening. I am mostly hoarding these rocks and broken pottery pieces and using them as borders. Then I mix all the clay soil with garden soil and whatever compost I’ve managed to make in the last two years – 6 sacks of 70L each, which is 420L, I did the math for y’all because I’m gracious like that, and truthfully, that’s a lot of compost. Yes, we eat that much, is the answer I guess.

Also, I’m very proud of my homemade compost. I’ve gotten compliments from our gardener for how good it is. Thanks! Apparently, I also have talents for making compost. Wow, that’s a useful talent, I dare say. Speaking of compost, we just recently found out that if you do your own compost at home, you are entitled to a 30% discount on the trash tax. I’ve been doing this for the past 2 years and we never knew! Now I don’t have to fight with my husband over the organic trash because now he will insist on putting them on my composter instead of throwing them away. Yes, seriously, I was not getting any support for my composting efforts until this 30% discount was brought to life. Thank god for incentives!

People complain about trash collection in the Philippines. That it’s not organized etc. Maybe because it’s free? Here, we are organized as f*** and the truck won’t collect your trash if it’s not in the proper color-coded plastic container, or if you stupidly mixed some broken mug or broken mirror in with your wine bottles and aluminum cans; but I’m telling you, if you pay 500 Euros per year for your trash to be collected, you better make sure your trash gets collected, yes?

Moving on to my next rant slash point of the day, I’m talkative AF today because I’ve been stuck at home alone with 2 minors for the past 6 days with no one else to talk to except these people wanting to see the furniture we’re trying to get rid of before we leave and asking for discounts or directions to our house without a number or a registered address, or both, and f*** if I’ve got nothing to say about random things.

Anyway, for a few years, like maybe even 5 years in total, I played this game called Gardenscapes. I spent many hours and actual euros and pesos playing this game. My daughter doesn’t approve of my games. She says my games are boring or maybe she just doesn’t take after me, your guess is as good as mine, but to tell you the truth, I’ve stopped playing Gardenscapes two years ago (and moved on to merging dragons and crystals and gnomes) because what is the point of playing Gardenscapes on my phone when I can actually, in reality, do Gardenscapes right on my backyard or side yard or front yard.

Yes, I have had virtual training on gardening and landscaping. I’m kidding, right? Of course, I’m kidding.

Anyway, I wish everything was as easy in the game as it is in real life. Like seriously, I’m just making stone borders and I believe it’s going to take me at least three months or more if I only do an hour or two of raking and collecting every day.

On a more serious note, I love what I am doing and I am happy with my life. We found ourselves a house on a hill with a view of the mountains, the sea, and the sunset, and it has a garden and electric gates. I spend my days just doing simple things and it’s completely stress-free. People say I hardly age, that I look exactly like I used to fifteen years ago. I’m guessing I aged earlier, like in my 20s I already looked like I’m in my 30s or 40s, so now time is only catching up, which if that was true, considering what I went through in those years, wouldn’t be so far off from the truth. Or maybe I do look younger because I live a stress-free life, just spending all day at home, trying to better our living conditions and building an edible garden. At night, when I’m in bed, cradling my toddler in my arms and stroking his hair upon his request, I think about how much there is to be grateful for and how far I’ve come. If there ever was a dream I had when I was a kid, it was really this, to live a simple quiet life far from the city. Dreams do come true. Of course, I never thought it would be in another country because truth is told, I would have been fine with being at the foothills of Mount Isarog, living in a bamboo and nipa hut with an outdoor toilet, rain shower, and a bathtub.

Categories: Gardening Musings

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Crazy wife. Mother of two.

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