A Gardener is Born

My friend Tyler, one of our neighborhood growers, is an Iraq war vet and all-around man’s man who finds some amusement in his new passion for gardening. He emailed this post and gave me permission to share it… Go Big T!


It comes as a surprise to me the amount of pleasure I am getting from recently starting a vegetable garden in my back yard. Never did I think this could be fun, interesting or productive. Never did I think of myself as a gardener. I am a war veteran, a 30-something, a dad; surely not a gardener.

Matt has shared his own harvested tomatoes the last couple of years and it did not register in me how neat that really was. Well, it is neat. There is no explanation what suddenly triggered my interest, but the fire has been ignited.

Perhaps because I have lived in the city my whole life (except for the stint in Iraq) and never knew gardeners nor farmers when I was growing up. Fruits and vegetables were items you bought at the store, not something grown. I like to think of myself as a country boy trapped in an urbanite’s body. Being a soldier, hunter and fisherman, I have never minded being outdoors and getting my hands dirty. I fancy myself as a man of action and growing vegetables couldn’t help that image.

Well, on second thought…….maybe being a dad has realigned my thinking. The most important things I can do for my children is give them security, love and to provide for them. I dream daily about my 4-year-old twins walking out back to the garden and picking their own eggplant, tomatoes and squash. Cooking fresh, home-grown vegetables for my children has put my glory days in humvees way behind me.

However, being a military man, I was compelled to conduct a threat analysis to my vegetable garden. To start, I have noticed more birds in my immediate vicinity. Two mockingbirds have taken up shop in the cypress tree that overlooks my garden. They are such bullies and I have my eyes on them! Then there is my neighbor’s cat. I half expect to come out one morning and see the soil scratched up and plants knocked over. However, maybe the cat will cancel out the birds. Or vice versa?

I know there are other vertebrate threats out there, but it is the invertebrates who ‘bug’ me. A couple of leaves have been hacked off. Some perfect circles are missing from the leaves. There are, perhaps, a dozen different bugs I need to really worry about. I just don’t know yet how to fight them off. I will have a plan. The biggest threat to date appears to come from my youngest son. Just yesterday, he lost his balance and sat down right on top a few of my bean sprouts. I had to pull the two he crushed and the one imprinted with the word ‘Pampers.’

In the meantime, I have strawberries! A butternut squash is showing. The roma tomatoes are growing. Banana peppers and my purple cherokees are flowering nicely. Did I mention that I have strawberries?


3 thoughts on “A Gardener is Born”

  1. Tyler, I love your post and take it fom me and I’m sure most of the readers of this blog, those birds are and always will be your gardening friend,,they love the bugs! I’ve been a gardener for over 40 years and can’t imagine not being one!
    Welcome to the addiction! Maggie

  2. Oh yeah, Tyler, cat’s can’t resist the nice soft earth of a garden. But they do have an effect on the birds.

    But the birds have an effect on the insects as well. We love to watch phoebes snapping up insects right over the plants.

    One thing I think has helped our garden is letting the back of our property go wild with native grasses – we just stopped mowing and watched what happened. The result was some great habitat for rodents and bugs, which means our garden isn’t necessarily the tastiest thing in our yard.


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