My husband and I in a combined lack of wisdom – or maybe a Covid haze, just built a grow box. I believe we were initially motivated by rumours there would be a scarcity of fresh fruits and vegetables in the grocery stores, as border closings would mean less truckers and farm workers. We have a big yard and for the past three years have been reducing the amount of labour required with choices like less pots (for me) and a riding lawnmower for my husband. Men can always find a power tool for their pleasure! So, I shake my head in confusion. Why did we take on another project?

My husband built the box over several days of hard work. We chose the back end of the Japanese garden for its location – out of sight of the rest of the yard, surrounded on two sides by fence, one by the back of the shed, and sitting on pea gravel for neatness.  When I viewed the finished project, I gasped at the size. Huge! He assured me he’d used the exact measurements given him. So, together we lined it with plastic. Smiling smugly at each other, we discussed the next step. Our smiles slid off our faces as we acknowledged our second bad choice. Instructions were ‘fill the grow box with four inches of river rock and gravel, then topsoil’. We looked around our tidy, enclosed space and realized we had no way of accessing the box other than on foot. Everything going into this wonderful, raised garden must be carried in by pail. We laughed at our idiocy.

My husband did the river rock on his own, together we hauled in the gravel. The next day I shovelled the box of a half ton truck full of soil into two pails, while he carried alternate pails, trip after trip. I worried about his weakening legs. He expressed concern for the tendinitis in my arm. Every eight pails full we stopped to relieve the muscle spasms in our lower backs and chat. The sun shone, the air had a lovely damp earth smell, harmony reigned.

I looked like a bent hag as I hobbled around the kitchen making supper for my hard-working guy. I so admired his perseverance, and the multitude of skills that had gone into designing and building the box. The next morning, he shuffled stiffly as he brought me a cup of tea, telling me he appreciated that I’d sacrificed my kayak arm to help him by shovelling. As we hugged – an excuse to rub each other’s back – he insisted he’d finish alone while I rested. When I questioned his jumping up and down into the truck, he said he’d build a ramp. With visions of him crashing onto the sidewalk, I insisted I’d shovel. Together we finished the job. His mother always said, “It doesn’t take long if there’s two of us.”

Together we stood by our box appreciating our work. As we levelled the rich soil our hands touched, and our thoughts meshed. We grinned with satisfaction at what we’d accomplished together – planning, building, filling and hopefully growing something in our grow box. We relaxed in our double glider in the Japanese garden and felt peace settle around us. The grow box is a permanent fixture, we agreed, at no time will we put the energy into emptying it.

I think of the great lumbering thing with affection. If we’re lucky (neither of us is a gardener) we might get a crop of veggies in the fall. However, the big take away is our garden has already produced a bounty of kindness, mutual respect, appreciation, and love.


  1. barbara
    May 7, 2021

    Who was it who said, no good deed goes unpunished. Nothing will taste better than the $50 carrot that comes from that box!

  2. Gail
    May 8, 2021


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