Before we closed on our condo late last spring, I contacted the woman who runs the Girdwood Community Garden. How do I get a plot? Can I help get the garden ready for spring? Would you like donations of things like hoses and tools and lawn mowers?
And then Murphy’s Law kicked in with a vengeance. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It was October before we were living in Girdwood full-time, and I didn’t get a community garden plot last summer.
This winter I was determined. I asked for a gift certificate from Seeds of Change. I ordered seeds, hand tools, row markers. I got a bright orange five gallon bucket from Home Depot, and a Fiskars bucket caddy. I checked in with the garden coordinator on a regular basis. I was ready to go.
In mid-May, I looked out the window of the Girdwood Community Chapel and saw the community garden. Tucked in among the trees, it did not match my imagination’s picture of sunny abundance.
When I finally got my plot, I was quite discouraged. Filled with devil’s club, horsetail, ferns, and other weeds I didn’t recognize, my very uneven plot was on the shady end of the garden.
But I had seeds. And tools. And row markers.
So I dug in. Literally. One of my new tools was a handy-dandy weeder that made an excellent scythe. Made in Japan, it’s called a Negiri Gama hoe.
There were two stumps in my plot. One was small and near the edge. The other I dug and cut until it released its death grip on the glacial clay; I took it home as a trophy, and it’s still living on the balcony.
As I was working to level the plot, the earth gave me a gift: a softball-sized chunk of granite-studded quartz.
Day after day I worked, digging stumps, pulling out rocks, creating a semblance of levelness. Finally it was ready for weed barrier–and soil. I dragged one wheelbarrow full of dirt down the uneven, stump-filled path before enlisting some help. It’s amazing how much faster a bed fills with five people working on it, rather than just one.
Somewhere in this adventure I discovered that I’m more attached to this raised bed that I built from the ground up than I would have been had my plot been move-in ready. My fifty square feet of “tamed” Alaskan wilderness is as quirky as I am, and I like it that way.