Seed Start: the Abandoned Garden

Become acquainted with every art. — Miyamoto Musashi

I wasn’t raised to hunt or forage outside the fluorescent matrix of a grocery store. This wasn’t an intentional slight; my old man grew up with victory gardens and having to feed my grandfather’s hunting dogs before he ate… because the dogs helped feed the family. My mom didn’t … and still doesn’t… like guns, so we never had them in the house and my dad didn’t feel any particular urge to prove his manhood after 30 years of military service by going hunting. He was a forward thinking man. His youngest son (me) was sickly and the doctors told him that too much exposure to nature would kill me.

My Grandpa Dunn — Mom’s dad — was an amazing gardener. He grew up on a farm, fought in WW II, and was a carpenter and millwright. He also hunted, sometimes bringing rabbit or squirrel to my Grandma’s kitchen. He raised chickens. He smelled of nicotine and saw dust and because I was sickly, I was intentionally excluded from his world.

I think about these things every year as Spring approaches. I’m not a great gardener but every year for the past 9 years my wife and I try and plant a garden. Some years have been better years than others. We’re both pretty smart, have a mutual DIY bent. She tolerates, if not tacitly embraces, my distrust of corporate food economies and supply chains. We do better with starts, but seeds are more cost effective. Every year I read up on starting seeds and try. As I started seeds this year, I find myself hoping. Last year didn’t go well. Maybe this year will.

Approaching Spring gives me new ambitions for my abandoned garden project. I want the back yard to be more than just a giant mud slide and raised garden beds. I want it to be functionally beautiful. This year, my granddaughter will be stomping around in the backyard and I want it beautiful and functional for her. We’ll see if my work schedule and bones — most notably my right hip, which I’m too young to have replaced inspite of needing it and my back, which is one slipped disc away from some other medical intervention I can’t afford — don’t impede.

There will be more hands to help, though, and I have to remember that all of this isn’t just ME. It’s Us. Sometimes I hate the house, but we are fortunate to have a place to live. I often feel out of my depth in all things related to taking care of the house. I often feel out of my depth trying to learn the art of gardening. I’m pretty sure I fail more than I succeed.

But failing and trying… that’s what learning is, anyway.

Originally published at on February 18, 2022.




Writer. Raconteur. Too many interests to list, so just keep reading.

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Ey Mick

Ey Mick

Writer. Raconteur. Too many interests to list, so just keep reading.

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