Runaway Garden

After cleaning out my little flower bed and planting a garden, I started noticing spots around my front and side yard that get obscene amounts of sunlight that would be perfect for growing more things. So, of course, I decided that I wanted to grow more things. Specifically, corn. I really love fresh corn. I’ve never actually grown it. I usually just go to the farmers market and grab some to take home to cook or I go to the farmers market and watch the super hot farmers as they sell already cooked corn on the cob drenched in butter. It’s like dinner and a show. But this year, with all this COVID talk, it seemed more important than ever to be at least a little in control of our food situation. So… more food it was.

I’ve always really liked the idea of having a garden. Before I quit eating meat and processed foods for the most part, I think my diet relied a lot on junkie foods. And, for me, when my taste buds were trained on salt and sugars, it was really hard for me to enjoy a simple fresh fruit or vegetable. I used to put sugar on my bananas and my strawberries if that tells you how much I liked “sweet” stuff. But as I slowly changed the way I ate, I noticed that my taste buds were changing too. Very rarely do I sit down and just binge on sweets these days. Now, don’t let me fool you, I can sit down and eat a whole sleeve of Oreos just like the next girl, and if they are in the house, I most definitely will. I just don’t have them in the house anymore (unless I know that a whole sleeve of Oreos is exactly what I need).  So growing my own food, didn’t really seem like something that would benefit me. For a few years I did have a small garden with cucumbers and peppers and tomatoes. I think I grew them because they were easy to grow, but I never really ate them. I did a lot of gardening to either give it away or lose interest halfway into the season and watch them wither and die.

My heart wasn’t in it. I’ll be 45 this year and my soul is just now settled enough to feel like I can garden. And I truly believe that’s what it takes. Aside from gardening being good for your soul, your soul has to be good for the garden, otherwise, you will fail.

I admire people in their 20’s and 30’s who have the stick-to-it-ness to create these beautiful bountiful gardens. That was not me. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I was raising children and worrying how I was going to feed them and keep a roof over their heads, working way too much for way too little, and complaining quietly about it the whole time.

It never dawned on me to have a little garden. It never dawned on me to teach my kids how to grow food. It never dawned on me that if I could grow food, I’d never have to worry about food insecurity. So to those of you who are in your 20’s and 30’s and have a thriving garden or even a barely surviving garden, Kudos to you! You are ahead of the game and I applaud you… standing ovation style applaud.

As for me, I just finally settled into my skin in the last year. Maybe because my third and final child, my baby, turned 18 and even though he still lives here, I don’t feel the overwhelming sense of parenting pushing down on my shoulders. Or maybe it’s because for the first time in my adult life, I have a super supportive partner who helps with the household chores and works super hard so I can have time to write and garden. Or maybe settling into yourself just comes with age. I’m not really sure, I just know that I feel more like myself these days and I’ve found that I really like being out in the garden with my hands in the dirt.

Enter the cornfield….

As I’ve watched the sun move across the front yard over the last couple of weeks, there is a small patch of grass next to the house. There used to be a tree there and every year it tries to grow little chutes that I end up lopping off, but the grassy spot next to the tree is gorgeous and gets so much sun. So we ended up clearing out all the brush and cutting down some intrusive ivy and cleaning up the side of the house all the way to the vacant lot next door and it just seemed like the perfect place to plant some corn. That was all.

Until I went to my brother’s house to borrow his tiller and he gave me melon seeds and zucchini seeds, and more tomato seeds, and some herbs, and some brussel sprout seeds…

The tilling was a killer. I pulled up so many stringy roots from under the ground that every five minutes I had to stop and clean out the tiller blades because I didn’t want to break my brother’s shit. Eventually I had a pile of roots that a hoodoo priestess would have been proud of (if they weren’t useless weedy roots) and a pretty sore set of arms.

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All the roots I dug up in order to live my dream as an urban farmer…..

So my front yard garden which just had onions, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, peas, garlic and lettuce has turned into 4+ small gardens that have onions, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, peas, garlic, lettuce, potatoes, dill, cilantro, brussel sprouts, corn, carrots, more tomatoes, watermelon and cantaloupe…. oh and I tilled a little extra space for sunflowers (mostly for the birds).

I still stuck with the “only plant what you will eat” theory, I’m just not sure we will be able to eat it all, but I’m a fan of sharing. So, after the weekend, I’m feeling pretty accomplished and I’m happy with my little garden… and my little life.

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