June 27, 2010

something's happening here

Our garden is showing signs of fruition...

We've already harvested the garlic scapes & planted more mixed salad greens & mesclun in place of the peppery arugula we ate shortly after cutting. Strawberries & cherry tomatoes are ripening, & the pepper plants & summer squashes are flowering. Basil, parsley, herbs & nasturtiums are growing exuberantly in their pots.

After waging a losing battle with the slugs, we've given up on beans, although the chard & spinach have a fighting chance now that we're keeping a forty-ouncer stocked for our voracious gastropods.

It still fills me with awe, the absolute bounty that comes from just a handful of tiny seeds.

We've been in Vermont for a little over a decade now, but this is our second vegetable garden since moving to the North East. While in San Francisco we had herb & veggie gardens, & at our little house on Potrero Hill a rosemary hedge that lined our front yard & from which our neighbors would take snips if their recipes or dinner inspirations called for it. While I miss the long & mild growing season on the West Coast, there is nothing like the anticipation & sheer excitement of the seasons & fall bounty in Northern climes.

some of last year's bounty

Growing up on the border of Québec, my parents kept a vegetable garden in our back yard during the short yet balmy summers. I remember helping my mother weed, catching garter snakes, & studying the seed packets that illustrated the veggies that were to appear, each placed on top of a stake which stood at the head of a neatly planted row. While studying as a Biology major in college, my fieldwork consisted partly of digging up sedges & studying their physiology, as well as drawing to-scale illustrations of their root systems & overall structure. I've always loved being around plants, but for many years I was at an arms-length from the botanical world as I pursued my other love, art. And now, so many years later, the two worlds have met again.

Our little Vermont bungalow has southern exposure & a perfectly sunny spot for a garden plot, something we missed while living in our loft space & village apartments prior to that. Of course, a patio garden or kitchen window herb garden is not out of the question in almost any space, but a combination of plant-eating cats & jungly, dark surroundings prevented us from putting the effort into it before finding our present abode. That & the fact that there are many organic farms & much incredible produce available to us in our area, making it easy to find wonderful food & support our local farmer's efforts. We are a short walk from the local Farmer's Market, & a slightly longer walk from the town's Food Co-op, both of which have fantastic selections of fresh, local fruits, vegetables & cheeses.

Regardless, there is nothing quite like walking into your back yard (or patio, or rooftop) & picking something fresh from your own garden & eating it within minutes of doing so. A renewed interest in people growing their own food has resulted in a crop of fantastic books & online resources to grow edibles in almost any type of space or situation, & most cities have community garden plots & a slew of programs, classes & organizations that can give you guidance if you prefer hands-on experience. It's not difficult to grow things, & highly rewarding, as well as a much more practical & efficient use of the energy that would otherwise go into the upkeep of a lawn, & a great way to use spaces like rooftops, balconies & empty lots to a higher potential.

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