As our seeds sprout, our spindly seedlings mature, dreams begin to dig dirt and hope fills the pages of poured over seed catalogs, garden guide books and barren land.
Gardening is, by intuition, a seasonal calling. A right to bear arms to “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt, he planted this seed of perspective directly in a space where it could grow. For this is what gardening, digging, hoping, planting, watering, and watching is all about, doing all that you can with all that you have where ever you are.
During our second year of squatting in a 2nd floor, one bedroom fire-hazard of an apartment above our Ukrainian immigrant landlady, our green tendrils started simply. Simple because it was with what we had been given. Irene had knocked on our upstairs door and asked if we would like a small space to plant something in the midst of her most life-giving, brilliant flower garden.
Brandywine, a suggested tomato variety from our octogenarian neighbor (a depression-era homesteaders before it was trendy), was our summers love affair. We tended those two Home Depot bought plants with every moment we could squeeze out of the daylight hours. Never before had there been such a marriage between a human and fruit.
We did what we could with what we had where we were and the seal was set. We were gardeners.
The following summer, in the midst of Little Tomatoes early mobile months we bought seeds for the first time. GMO seeds I’m sure, but at that time, that didn’t matter. We had few friends as we were new arrivals to the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia and my busy postpartum hands needed more to work than cloth diapers and dirty dish soap.So we seeded carrots (gasp!) and leeks (the nerve!); planted summer squash along the north facing edge of our driveway (what were we thinking?) that grew to the point of us being unable to drive up to our house, forcing us to park our cars in front of the house on the road. Beets were seeded in pockets of bricks and I spent hours lacing guiding strings for bush beans to grow up through.
People, I didn’t know the difference between bush beans and pole beans. Novice mistakes and mishaps perhaps. That didn’t matter though – I was enamored, absorbed, obsessed with soil and plants and experimenting. I made mistake after mistake and failed time and time again. Seeds didn’t sprout, sick soil didn’t support and there was perhaps and time or two where over watering may have occurred.
Not many plants produced that summer and we moved to Michigan before many of our plants came to fruition. We knocked on our neighbors doors, shared we were moving and encouraged them to reap the harvest, pull the beans from the bushes and enjoy the thriving summer squash, just don’t drive up the driveway.
The following summer this happened and at the risk of the most cliche, we were never the same.
We did the research, made plans and plot maps, bought berry bushes, planted a hardy cherry tree and started seeds (after discovering that not all seeds were recommended to begin their lives indoors. Sorry carrots 2011.). We double-dug fresh broken land, found the soil to be in poor health but not incurable. We
Jake made a compost bin and built raised beds. I discovered companion planting, crop rotation, square foot gardening and what germination meant. We also lost all of our squash crop to pesky larva, chased away tomato horn worms with cayenne pepper and found the beauty in borage and nasturtium.
So, without further adieu I bring you the logistics:
Seeds started indoors:
Broccoli (Raab, Romanesco)
Cabbage (Brunswick, Chinese, Chinese Michle, Red)
Peppers (Green, Hot Chili Thai, Jalapeno, Sweet Red)
Tomatoes (Abe Lincoln, Brandywine, Glacier, Red Siberian, Rutgers, Tommy Toe)
Seeds To Be Planted Outside:
Asparagus (Mary Washington)
Bush Beans (Jade)
Leaf Salad Bowl Blend
Mesculun Gourmet Baby Greens
Mustard (Red Giant)
Sugar Snap Peas
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Wild Flowers. Lots of wildflowers
The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 Ways to Get Kids Outside, Dirty, and Having Fun
2 Raised Beds, 6×6, Front Yard
1 Ground Level Garden, 10×40, Back Yard
1 Community Garden Plot, 12×25, 2 miles due South
Any vertical space or sunny hidden nook I can find.
Layout of our community garden plot hasn’t been planned out yet as we just snatched it up a few days ago.
What are you doing with what you have where you are?