Garden Tour: May

Gardening my own food has taken root in my soul.

I come from a rather mixed gardening background. Growing up we lived on a corner lot with a large backyard. We had a robust rose garden, a pair of fruit trees, some strawberries and a swath of boysenberries vines, but with the exception of the roses, which took far too much pruning in my childhood opinion, I don’t really recall my parents doing much gardening.

Still that fruit was the most memorable part of the yard.  During the summer my friends and I would snack our way through the backyard, staining our fingers with berry juice.

Vegetables, however, were a different story.

Our attempts at vegetable gardening were limited at best. My mother always had a few cherry tomato plants, but there were only two years where we tried something more ambitious. My father made a pair of raised beds in the place where our swing set used to be and planted some veggies. There were pumpkins and baby corn that grew into inedible adult corn, but I have no real recollection of eating any veggies from our garden.

Despite (or perhaps because of) this lack of vegetable-growing experience, I leapt at the opportunity to cultivate my own little “bit of earth”, when it finally arrived

“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?” In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.
“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”
“To plant seeds in—to make things grow—to see them come alive,” Mary faltered...
“You can have as much earth as you want,” he said. “You remind me of some one else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want,” with something like a smile, “take it, child, and make it come alive.”
— - The Secret Garden, Chapter 12 by Frances Hodgson Burnett

After years of transient living, we moved back to Maine in 2008. We ended up in a first floor apartment in Deering Center and our second year living there, the neighborhood association started a community garden. I was one of the first to sign up for those early plots and planted myself four tidy rows of tomatoes, bells peppers, broccoli and herbs. I was quite detail oriented and spaced each row with precision (and yard stick). I was amazed at how quickly those small seedlings filled in the gaps between them and the chance to use my own produce got me excited about cooking. 

I was sad to leave behind that plot when we moved to our current home, but the wound was eased by the fact that I now had a corner lot of my own. The first year in, there wasn’t much to do in the way of gardening, as we had some clean up (namely the removal of an above ground pool) to tackle first. But bit by bit, bed by bed, my bit of earth has grown up into something a little more robust. I’m still far from finished (is any garden truly finished? I think not), but each year those roots and the deep joy I find in gardening grows a little bit deeper.

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