Thursday, April 10, 2008

Confessions of a Gardening Girl

August 2007

Speaking of kale, Wednesday morning was the final seeding of the garden. For those of you who have followed me through the last few years, you know that about two years ago I moved east from the west. While my parents did have a garden when I was a kid, it was during my pretty little years so I did not absorb much beyond a vague idea of weeding. Years passed without much in the way of growing things, and then I moved into a flat in San Francisco with a seriously overgrown yard. The yard never knew what hit it. We hauled bags and bags of weeds and debris (bones! glass! small babydolls! a half decomposed pair of underwear!) to the curb and went about learning the hard way about what grew in the mystifying climate of the Inner Mission. The thing was, we lived right next to a shop run by a car mechanic who had no problem dumping all ilk of different oil and solvent in various nearly drains, and that combined with the previously mentioned debris laden soil pretty much convinced us that eating things out of the soil was risky business. So I grew succulents. Amazing succulents. Stunning succulents. Thoroughly non-edible succulents. The truth is, in the right climate succulents are a breeze to grow, no green thumb required. But nonetheless I started calling myself some sort of gardener and moving to these mountains was in part a decision made in light of my desire for my own (edible) garden.

Jump cut to now. When B. showed me the house, I was thrilled beyond bits that we would have plenty of room for a garden. Where would this garden go? Right in the front yard. Yard like grass. Yard like grass growing in some serious clay. All I can say is that it’s a good thing we’re young and dumb because de-sodding, tilling, soil amending, and compost moving is one hell of a project. There were times when I seriously doubted we could get it done in time for a winter garden, but the thought of snipping my own greens in the falling winter twilight kept me moving. That and B’s unflagging enthusiasm and badass tilling skills.

Anyway, about a week ago we pretty much had a garden on our hands. And it’s here I should confess that I pretty much have no idea what I’m doing. Sure, I’ve grown some basil and a few beans and even a respectable tomato before. But standing in front of three long beds of dirt with a pile of seed packets in my hands I really have no idea if what I’m about to sow into the ground will be happy there. I’d been fretting and reading about when to plant what (it’s a wild world of gardening information out there people), but that morning I woke up from a fantastic night of sleep in the cool new evening temperatures and decided Wednesday was the day.

Opening those seed packets was kind of like my own private Christmas. Who knew that Swiss Chard had such a funny shape? Like a little wrinkled cork peg. Or that red leaf lettuce seeds are actually the sweetest dusky pale green while green leaf lettuce is dark like a caraway seed? Into the ground they all went, greens and lettuces and favas and beets. It’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll get to eat anything from our garden this summer, but right now there’s a bounty of possibility sitting in our front yard. Stay tuned.

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