Been There, Done That by Laura Nethken

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Our garden tiller had some sort of a meltdown and our oldest son said we'd better see about renting one or something. We did that last year and it was a nightmare. The only place he could find to get one was about 25 miles from here and it wasn't all that cheap.

Counting the gas it cost to get there and haul the tiller here and back and the cost of renting the thing to start with, I think we were out about $200. That's insane.

And they wanted a deposit on the tiller. You get it back, but how do you come up with it in the first place?

Dave and I were whining about it to our friend when he said "Why didn't you say something? I've got a tiller you can borrow." Are you kidding me?

Nope. Not at all, because we called him first this year. And man, did he go above and beyond. He not only loaned us the use of his tiller, he loaned us himself and his truck, too.

Originally, he had dropped it off on our porch at the camper for our son to pick up. But then he changed plans, loaded the tiller and us in his truck and off we went to our house to get the garden dealt with. Then he proceeded to till our garden. Dave took a couple of turns here and there. I even gave it a shot. That was a bad plan.

It's been a few years since I touched a tiller and I kind of forgot how it works. If you want it to go, you lift up on the handlebars. Yeah well, I forgot that and it proceeded to dig a hole straight down in the garden before our friend came to the rescue.

Even back when I was helping out with the tilling on a regular basis, I wasn't all that good at it. That's why the garden got bigger every year. I couldn't make the tiller turn the corner. By the time I wrestled it around, we had an extra foot dug up in every row I did. Oops.

The day after we tilled, I dug out my bag of black landscaping canvas that I saved from last year. Actually, this is the third year we've been able to use the same pieces. Although I'm missing a bag or something. I'm about five panels short and this year I've been leaving gaps in between to plant the little stuff like beets, onions, radishes, turnips and carrots. And boy, have those been a pain in the you-know-what.

First of all the gaps themselves have caused a bit of a problem. Normally, the panels overlap an inch or so. That way I could use one nail to hold down two pieces. And half the time, the nails pull out since the dirt's like baby powder from the awesome tilling job.

So I put bricks, rocks, little chunks of concrete, whatever I can find, on top to hold it down. I asked Dave what he thought other people did to hold it down. Buy more of those expensive plastic nails that don't stay in all that well?

He said nobody else uses the black stuff in their vegetable garden. We came up with that one on our own. With that stuff down, there's no weeding and no watering. Gotta love that.

Other people use the black stuff for what it's for and put mulch or pea gravel on top of it. Yeah, I guess that would hold it down.

Another thing we did a little different than the average bear was started the beets, onions, turnips, radishes and carrots in those $1 roasting pans you get at the dollar store.

You're supposed to dig a little trench in your garden row and put the seeds in it. We had little plants to contend with because they really went nuts in those pans. I planted 60 beets the other day and that only went about 2/3 of the length of the row. I don't even know how many radishes I planted. They took up the whole row. And kind of took a toll on my body.

Kneeling lasted for about 10 plants, then I had to get up and stretch my legs. Sitting down with one leg stretched out worked great until I got up and discovered my knee was kind of tweaked from it.

Even the regular planting of 12 mounds for the cucumbers wasn't all that easy. Up and down, up and down. Move over three feet and do it again. Maybe I'm getting too old for this stuff.

I pondered that thought as I walked the 300 feet or so back up to the house. With my short fat legs screaming in protest the whole way. That's when I realized it's not old so much as out of shape that's the problem.

Good thing, because I don't know how to fix old.

Copyright 2014 Laura Nethken

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