With graduation looming in the air, I am reminded of the vicious cycle I have had to endure when I was deciding what I wanted to be when I grow up. You know the drill. When you’re little, you think you know for sure what you want to be, then you get to high school and have no idea, only to finally pick a major in college and hope that that’s what you want to do for the rest of your life. Well folks, it’s taken me twenty-six years, but I’ve finally found my calling in life. When I grow up, I want to be a blackberry farmer.

Inspiration struck one glorious day this spring when I was on the Kansas State fairgrounds attending the MCC Sale with my Kendall. I was browsing through the plants they had for sale and that’s when I came across some measly ol’ blackberry thickets in a little plastic baggie for only $3. Blackberries are my favorite fruit… I’ve always wanted to “live off the land…” I had the $3 I needed to buy it in my pocket… So I took my chance and bought that three dollar thicket.  Kendall laughed at the sight of it, but I was bound and determined to make this thing grow.

All of a sudden, my entire future became reliant upon this little berry thicket. I’d plant this bush, grow a bazillion berries and my future would be set. We’d live off the land and I’d be a blackberry farmer.

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All jokes aside, I really have always had a yearning to garden. Dirt runs through my veins. I’ll never forget when I was growing up at my grandma and grandpa’s house how we’d always be feasting off of the harvest from my grandpa Delmer’s garden. Stealing sticks of rhubarb… eating corn on the cob… and my personal favorite, grandpa’s strawberries. Grandma would cut them up for us cousins, and then if we were lucky, she’d sugar them for us too.  My grandpa Delmer was the rock star gardener and it pains my heart that he’s no longer here to give me the advice that I so desperately need to make my little blackberry bush grow. 

I spent many nights researching online for all of the best ways to grow a blackberry bush, so once I worked up the courage, I planted my little thicket. I watered that sucker for almost a full month and nothing happened. It literally looked as though I was just watering a couple sticks that were poking out of the ground. But then, to my utter delight, one morning when I went to water my little thicket, a small hint of a green leaf had popped out to say hello. And that’s all it took for me to know, I was officially in business.

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I can’t begin to explain the kind of adrenaline rush I got when I saw the plant that I nurtured actually responded and began to grow. So why stop there? Since I live practically right next to our local greenhouse, I rode my bike over to buy hoards of seeds to plant including: asparagus, watermelon, green beans, cantaloupe, carrots, broccoli, strawberries, zucchini and sunflowers. I plotted out a garden in the backyard and had to go through two rototillers to break through my rock hard, un-tilled ground.

This process took me absolutely forever and I had to stop several times due to the fact that I thought I was dying from a heat stroke. I grabbed my gloves and retreated back indoors to start some of my seeds in little cups before I transfer them outdoors.

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The only thing that bothers me about gardening is the time factor. I prefer instant results… so it’s been painstakingly difficult to put a stick in the ground and five seconds later still not be able to eat a mouthful of blackberries. From what I’ve heard so far, it does take a while for the bushes to establish and then even yield a decent crop worth baking a pie for.

As impatient as I am though, nothing relaxes me more than being out in my little garden plot. I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something so soothing about taking your shoes off and letting your feet get dirty to nurture something. There’s the sweating, then the nurturing, the dedication and care, and then the eager anticipation and hope that all of your hard work is going to pay off. Even if I only get one whole blackberry to munch on by the end of this, it still has been so good for my soul.

So yeah. I wouldn’t say my blackberry business is exactly booming yet. It looks like I’ll be eating blackberries from the grocery store and having to stick to my day job for a little while longer, but stay tuned, for I have high aspirations of what my little farm could become.

Our doors are open and you are always welcome….

Grandpa Delmer, I dedicate this blog post to you. I’ve thought about you constantly during these past few weeks of my gardening ventures and I only hope that my garden can produce even half of what yours was capable of. I miss you every day and wish you were here to teach me everything you know.

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