This is a post I have been wanting to write for a very, very long time. These are pictures I have been wanting to take for an even longer time. And a couple months down the road, when I’m drizzling homemade ranch over my homegrown lettuce, carrots, and zucchini, that will be a salad I will have been wanting to eat for what feels like forever and a week. At long last, Marc and I and our housemates have taken the plunge into urban gardening. This weekend we planted two raised beds and several pots that we hope will yield delicious, nutritious, FREE food for our families in the coming spring.
I know this may not seem like that big of a deal to some of my readers who may have grown up learning to garden from their grandparents or who have long since turned their meager square footage of urban property into a vegetable oasis, but for me, this is a monumental.
Out of everyone living in the house right now, I am the person with the least experience and natural inclination towards making things grow out of dirt. You can ask my old roommate about the sad fate awaiting every plant that crossed the threshold into our house. And believe me, there were many, including a shriveled, blackened cactus that could have weathered the harshest Arizona summer but didn’t survive two weeks in my living room. I also come from a family that, in lieu of growing real flowers, potted silk ones in real soil and mulch to give the illusion of botanical bliss without the hassle of actually caring for living things. This was what I brought to the table as we decided that we would start a garden this spring. And as much as I tried to create a Little House on the Prairie fantasy for myself, I was almost certain it was going to turn into a Grapes of Wrath scenario in no time flat. I was horrified that I was going to spend a bunch of money just to end up turning my yard into Dust Bowl 2.0.
“I have trouble remembering things about plants,” I confessed to Tracey.
“It’s okay,” she replied.
“Like watering them.”
Steeled by my friends’ promises that they would remind me to water the plants until it became ingrained in my black-thumbed skull, I set hoe to soil for the first time in my life.
It was pretty incredible, you guys. If I may be allowed to get preachy for a brief second, I believe firmly that we lost something very deep and important in our souls when we, as a society, got so “civilized” that we stopped growing our own food and paid machines to do it for us. Getting your hands full of rich black soil and planting seeds on the faith that some of them, maybe five out of fifty, will sprout and grow, is as close to God as I’ve felt in years. Knowing that I am participating in one of the oldest and most primal acts in the world–the act of bringing forth nourishment from the earth–gives me a feeling of connectedness to the world around me that I just don’t acknowledge when I’m spending my days going from store to store, building to building, eating things shrink wrapped in plastic and never bothering to wonder where it came from.
I had a first date with farming and I’m falling, hard.
And you know what? I don’t think it’ll be quite as hard to remember to water them as I thought. If nothing else, my sunburn will remind me.