Monday, August 25, 2008

Garden Fever

It’s that wonderful time of year when everyone shares the overflow from their gardens with neighbors, friends, and heck even enemies when it comes to zucchini. This yearly act of generosity always makes me think, dang it—next year I’m having a garden!

I never did get one at our Columbus house. The backyard had a gigantic oak tree in the middle of it, and a mature maple in the corner. It made for shady sitting on hot summer days, but really terrible vegetable gardening. The front yard was blazing sun and would have made a great site for a potage garden where vegetables and herbs grow alongside ornamentals in lovely arranged beds. I knew myself too well, however, to let the fantasy of a well maintained potage garden, the likes of which you see only in glossy garden magazines, turn my front yard into a thing that would have the neighbors complaining anonymously to the city officials.

But next year…my garden is going to “kick ass” as the Anne Taintor button says. The site is all picked out—you’ll be able to look down on it from the star-gazing deck. You’ll meander through it when traveling up to the cabin from the new house, and back again. It is going to have a rustic arbor in the middle of it with wisteria (or grapevine, haven’t decided) growing over it and a table in the middle of it for al-fresco dining. It will have some raised beds for tender things and I’m going to start amending the in-ground beds this fall with leaves and cover crops. I’m going to have potatoes, melons, peppers, carrots—you name it.

And it will have a fence. A good fence that goes underground to thwart the groundhogs and that has little sacks of human hair hanging from it like shrunken heads to ward off the deer. Because, actually, I did have a little “garden” this year…our builder, Tom Shingary, brought me some tomato plants in the middle of July. They were leftover from what he planted of the leftovers from another person’s garden. I was not optimistic about getting tomatoes from plants put in our hard clay ground in the middle of July, but what the heck. They surprised me by growing quickly and steadily. They had several flowers and some green fruit and all was going well until one morning when we walked down to water them (they are in front of the new house) and our jaws dropped open. Regard the carnage wreaked by the “Fearsome Five,” our little band of deer that visit the meadow every morning and evening: They even ate the pokeweed nearby. It was dessert I guess. Since we have an apple orchard and a few pear trees already, I’m reading books about growing fruit and I admit to a modicum of despair. It seems technical and picky and so very hit-or-miss. But, without doing one thing to our trees, look at the bounty they are bestowing on us newbies: Along with the tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, plums, and yes zucchini that my friends and neighbors are sharing with me, I have also been inspired by the book I’m currently reading: It is eye-opening, and often jaw-dropping. Read it if you dare to understand where our food comes from. And look out, it might just make you want to start a garden of your own.

1 comment:

Family Smudge said...

Hi Meg, wow - that's so funny. Just this morning somebody recommended this book to me in relation to my recent post on raising animals for food. I will definitely have to get it now!!! The new garden sounds divine!