Farmer Betsy

I’m the kind of person – fortunately or unfortunately – who gets an idea and then runs with it. For example, I wanted to have a garden to dig in and put flowers in, and definitely, to plant a butterfly bush in. I live in a really small townhouse with a deck off the back and just a small area of ground to work with. So, I worked with it.

I now have a garden with a two-stacked cement-brick border. It has a butterfly bush, some spices, and a few flowers. Last spring I also purchased two tomato plants from Whole Foods. I thought the description was dwarf tomato plants but it wasn’t. Those tomato plants grew tall – well over the deck railing, but none of the fruit was any good. So, I chopped them down and recycled the plants (threw them in some near-by woods).

When I started the garden area, the landscape company that cuts the grass and chops the evergreen into odd block or triangular shapes, came and did their thing. When they left – my garden had a top level of cut grass! Ut-oh! That would mean that I’d be gardening new grass – so, I got most of it out and cut a 3-foot deep path around the garden wall and along the deck pylons (which I added lattice work to).

I shoveled chunks of turf from this 3×16 L-shaped “path” or future walkway. And, tossed the stones and rocks into a pile. I made sure that I shook the turf free of all good-soil packed with earth worms. Worms are my friends. Plus, even though I will smash the hell out of any cockroach that enters my home, I am still loathe to kill outside bugs and worms and spiders. So now I had a dirt L-shape walkway that was deep enough to keep the grass cuttings out of my 6×6 bricked garden. The beginnings of a patio path!

I have learned – by walking around the gardening, etc., area of Lowe’s – that I will need to have some type of holding-border for this walkway. I will want to put paving sand down before I start laying whatever path material I decide on.

So, yesterday evening I went back to work on the pathway – there is no way I would do this work during our typical hot and steamy summers in NC. The fall weather is on it’s way and digging in the dirt now is still hot but not unbearable.

I worked on the edge and made the path a bit deeper – my thinking that I will still need some “throw area” so that grass cuttings don’t end up on the actual path. I thought about how I will have to make sure this path is level. I worried that I would ever have a job that paid enough so that I could actually buy the materials and finish the path.

I did not worry about the fact that I have no idea what I am doing. I did briefly wonder if there’s a book I could get on how to create a stone pathway (they have everything at Lowe’s).

I just use an idea, some tools, what I observed my Dad doing in his garden when I was a teenager, some information I gleaned while my ex-husband built rooms off the house, and what I have learned by listening to carpenters and other builders. Oh, I forgot – and what I learned from Norm and Steve.

But I really don’t know how to build a stone path. I should be intimidated or fearful of screwing this up.

I’m not – I have my great imagination, my ability to learn, and books, and all that stuff at Lowe’s. For a really insecure person, I have this attitude that I can do anything, lots of things I don’t know how to do or never actually did before.

Since I’m not from New England, I don’t consider this a “pioneer attitude.” I know I screw things up – mostly relationships. So, how can I think I can do anything I think I can do? I think it’s because, as I’ve told friends (the ones I still have), in my family you were expected to know how to drive a car even if you never saw one before in your life.

In other words, I have had to improvise all my life – without guidance – and gleen enough information to get the gist of something and then do my job, or project, or (hopefully not too much anymore) spout off at the mouth about it. Sounds like arrogance.

The humbling part is I love digging in that dirt, I love watching a butterfly light on that bush, I love honoring my HP by trying to add something, help something grow. And, I’m sure I will get a book or ask some friends who have some experience, strength, and hope in creating stone paths.

BUT – if you want to recommend a good book or tell me how you created an outdoor pathway – I’d love to hear from you!

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