I, unlike my sister, am a novice gardener. Even though we come from a long line of green thumbs on both sides – our paternal grandmother grew up on a farm and our maternal lineage is littered with beautifully composed botanical havens – I was never all that interested. My mom put in a garden wherever she found herself, including in the two foot wide strip of dirt encircling the concrete pad in back of the little stucco Berkeley bungalow we rented for a few years. I’m pretty sure my only involvement was directing her to put a rose bush under my window since I have no memories of helping with planting or weeding. I must have been inside on the couch, reading. What a brat!
But during my twenties I lived with a few other marginally employed free spirits in a rambling, ramshackle house whose best assets were it’s slightly sagging covered porch and the large vegetable plot someone had put in just a few steps away. Suddenly I was enchanted – here was a garden I could get behind, one I could eat out of! The ordinary magic of it has stuck with me, biding it’s time through one unsuitable urban dwelling after another.
Until the man and I bought this old ranch house on a .73 acres a couple of years ago. Standing in the front yard we surveyed the sunny swathe of grass stretching out front of the house like a big velvety green canvas. ‘An orchard!’ K exclaimed, and then ‘a pond!’. Picturing happy dogs, running I cried ‘let’s fence the whole thing!’. I mentally sketched out where we would build generous raised beds for our vegetable garden, and scouted the perfect spot for a row of blueberry bushes and an herb garden.
Temporary insanity, clearly, because as any new home owner knows, for every little project you noted and accounted for in the purchase, there’s about ten thousand more urgent and expensive problems that appear immediately after you sign on that dotted line. Fast forward 27 months and our green canvas remained mostly intact. We’d planted two trees in our orchard, an apple and a fig; a couple of blueberries, and a handful of herbs. After pricing out what it would cost to construct the raised beds we’d need (because of our vole infestation) to put in vegetables we pushed the project to the back burner.
Then a couple of months ago while clearing a bed choked with ivy, wild grape and virginia creeper we threw in some squash seeds on a whim, a few marigolds, sunflowers and a couple of tomato starts. Honestly we didn’t expect much, we just wanted to see what would happen. So we were thrilled when our first little tomatoes turned red, two pretty pale green squash lay on the vine nearby and our basil plants were in full leaf – enough we realized to make a quick summer pasta: