It’s almost time … We’re so close … But not quite there yet …
With the sunny mild weather we’ve had this spring, it’s taken every ounce of willpower I have not to start planting (the foot of heavy wet snow we got a couple of weeks back reminded me why I’m waiting). But just give it a week or two and the cool weather seeds will be sown and home-grown deliciousness will soon follow.
My love affair with gardening began when I was as young as I can remember. One of my earliest childhood memories from Michigan is going out to the garden patch with my parents and eating carrots straight from the ground. We apparently had a small raspberry patch, too; I don’t remember that, but from what I hear I could easily polish off a whole season’s harvest in one sitting (thank you for sacrificing the berries to me, Mom & Dad!).
It wasn’t until I was living off-campus during my college years in Tucson, Arizona, that I made my first real grown-up attempt at gardening. Along the south side of my little rental duplex I cleared a hardscrabble patch of earth, blistering my hands in a full-day attempt at breaking up layers of caliche and clearing the ground of enough rocks to have a go at planting some seeds. I remember being puzzled at the growth of lettuce-on-a-stalk (the concept of bolting was foreign to me), but as the chamomile blossomed, beautiful and fragrant beneath the desert sun, so did my love for coaxing life from the earth.
Years later I found myself in Santa Barbara, in a rental house that came with four raised bed gardens in the backyard. How wonderful, I thought! Great soil, no need to prep. I planted to my heart’s content, and watched things grow. Until one day, I watched—with some hybrid of horror and humor—one of my plants get pulled into the soil. First an inch, and another, then a foot, until the whole thing disappeared into the ground. It was just like the cartoons, and I could feel my head bobbing as I watched it yanked earthward. The culprit: gophers.
The gophers tortured the dogs; it was like a game of whack-a-mole. They would come up one garden hole and as the dogs lunged they would disappear and pop up from another. Plants disappeared one by one. Unwilling to accept this state of affairs, I bought a tarp and some chicken wire. I dug all the soil out from all the beds onto the tarp,
Fast forward to Montana. A raspberry patch along the west wall, and four raised beds in the backyard. The beds were filled, my landscape folks assured me, with “top quality, organic garden soil.” Given the clay content of that “premium” soil, I’m relatively certain they just scavenged excavated dirt from another building site in the neighborhood (I amused myself by making pinch pots with the soil and leaving them to dry on the rim of the beds). Hoping that heaps and bags of compost would fix the soil challenges, I planted my first Zone 4 garden.
Until I can eat my garden on a plate, I’m settling for a little garden-in-a-glass. I leave you with that recipe, as well as a poem appropriate for this season of gardens new.
Rinse off all ingredients, process in a juicer, and enjoy!
The opening out and out, body yielding body: the breaking through which the new comes, perching above its shadow on the piling up darkened broken old husks of itself: bud opening to flower opening to fruit opening to the sweet marrow of the seed—
from what was, from what could have been. What is left is what is.