". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fruits of the Earth

Our yard is a work in progress. (I guess everyone who has a yard would probably say the same thing--there is always more that can be done--but ours is most definitely a hard case.)

When we bought our house 7-1/2 years ago we didn't realize what in time became apparent: the aesthetic principle of our previous owners was Dionysian rather than Apollonian (in other words, they were planting fanatics who had no appreciation for the classical virtues of subtlety, order and space). If there was an open spot, they made sure to put something in it. Over time a lot of the things they planted grew beyond the space allotted for them. Eventually we realized that it was just too much to try to maintain and trim it all (and that it would be nice to have a little more yard), so over the last few years when finances have allowed we have slowly started removing things--a tree here, a shrub there. Problem is, when you remove a shrub without putting something in its place, you issue a standing invitation to every homeless weed in the county. So now in our yard we have some thriving weed patches.

Several of those patches are going to have to wait until there is money available to properly landscape them. One of the empty spots, however, called out to husband, saying, "Plant some herbs and vegetables in me!" So notwithstanding my negative nay-saying about how we don't have time to plant a garden, much less tend to one, he gamely insisted on purchasing a few herb and tomato plants at our local Farmers' Market last month and planting them in one of our empty patches.

We did no soil preparation at all other than clearing out some of the rocks (the previous owners were also fond of those red "lava" rocks, so much so that I don't think we will ever get rid of them all) and weeds. We just dug a few holes, plopped in the seedlings, and trusted the sun to work its magic. We do water but not as much as we should (sometimes we have to actually see the poor little things drooping sadly before we remember to do so).

Yet in spite of our total lack of experience with gardening and haphazard "by-gosh-and-by-golly" care, we have managed to actually grow, and even more amazingly eat from, our very own garden! We only have about eight plants right now (we could have probably fit 3-5 more in our tiny little plot), but they are not only surviving but thriving. And the bunnies and bugs have so far left them alone!

So like a proud mama, I have to show off our "children":

TOMATOES! (The photo is of a grape tomato plant; we also have a couple of cherry tomato ones.)

By the way, can you find the beagle hidden in the picture above?




We have already had several meals of pasta with pesto sauce made from our basil plants, and the chives are making a nightly appearance on our salads. The sage has been used to season pork chops as well as in a butter sauce for vegetables. Yesterday was the first day there were tomatoes ripe enough to eat (we picked four, so each of us was able to have a taste)--I'm counting on some daily pickings from here on out.

I have to give a nod to my husband (the visionary in the family), who as mentioned earlier was the one who decided that we should try our hand at gardening this year. Spurred by this small success, we are motivated to clear a little more space and do it right next year, complete with proper soil preparation and a border to keep out the invading grass.

Our little growing adventure has given me a deeper appreciation for all growers, particularly my father. When I was in junior high, my dad retired and we moved out in the country so that he could have room for a garden. I remember him growing all kinds of things--greens, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, carrots, squash, and more--and then spending hours with my mom preserving some of his crop. Back then I didn't appreciate the time and effort involved nor the fact that I was enjoying some of the freshest and healthiest food I had ever eaten. I wish now that I had watched and learned more from them both and that I had been more thankful for the food that they were providing. I hope that as a result of our own gardening adventure our children will gain a deeper understanding of all that goes into the food that appears on their table, no matter where it comes from.


Jane said...

Congrats on the produce! It's fun to eat your own food, isn't it. :)

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the encouragement! It means a lot coming from you! (Your pictures of your garden are part of my inspiration for next year!)

atara said...

I love fresh herbs! We keep some outside as well. Our favorites are bay and rosemary because they last all year. The other stuff needs replanting.