When I was a kid, my mom put in a garden. It was cool, and I liked weeding, but I didn't really get it. I liked eating and cooking the food we'd grow, and I appreciated the compost bin, and I even loved the sort of hippie-cred I would get from having a garden. But I honestly didn't do much work out there.
For years, I thought I had a brown thumb, even a black thumb. But really, I just didn't water my plants. I would start with good intentions, but I would forget to water. I really didn't get it.
It took a couple years. I moved around a lot. I even lived in a school bus for a while(!).
Finally, I got out of a relationship, I moved into a house with a woman who was a gardener. We redid the backyard and put in a huge veggie garden and all I had to do was weed and water. I did that. We had watermelons and tomatoes and so much zucchini. Then she moved out and the garden went fallow.
I let it get all overgrown. I borrowed my neighbors weed-eater to manage the tiny swath of lawn that I couldn't manage to mow. Then one day, something changed. I put on some gloves and pulled up all the weeds. I borrowed a pitchfork and turned the compost pile. Then I turned the compost into the bed and planted seeds. I got poison ivy on my face. I had to get a cortisone shot in the butt, but that was later. In the meantime, I became a gardener.
Two years ago, I bought a house on about a quarter acre in Austin, Texas. In putting down metaphorical roots, I have put down some real ones too. One of the first things I did to my property was till up a garden. Even though my house needs TONS of work, the garden was a priority. It's gotten bigger and bigger and more ambitious every year. This Valentine's day, my sweetheart and I rented a tiller and dug up most of the front yard. (The backyard is all shady and way smaller than the front- besides we have two big and energetic dogs) We have tripled our cultivated space.
There are potatoes, asparagus, artichokes, many kinds of beans, at least 20 tomato plants (started from seed this year(!)), 8 peppers, 5 eggplant, 3 cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, amaranth, quinoa, basil, tarragon, thyme, savory, fennel, dill, 4 kinds of pumpkin, three blackberry bushes, sunflowers, tons of poppies and so much more. It is so satisfying and exciting to watch these babies grow! I am obsessed with their progress and thrilled with every harvest. Last night I ate my own artichokes! Wow.
I promise to post pictures, but I just wanted to share how excited I am! For Chrismukkah, my boyfriend gave me an earthworm bin! I thought it was so romantic! He outdid himself on Valentines day by renting the tiller at Home Depot and bringing it home as a surprise! Our relationship is so much richer for our experience working our yard together.
Working in the garden makes me so grateful. Grateful for my arms and my shovel and seeds and the sun and every storm. I feel so much more connected to the world and I notice so much more about the world around me because of the time I spend in the garden. Plus, a really bad day can be made so much better by chopping up the compost pile or weeding. Nothing like achievable goals with visible results, right?