First Garden

Gardening | March 20, 2010

In my first house I planted a garden on the west side of our detached garage. a poor place for a vegetable garden. Not enough sun. Carol didn't think anything would grow.

The thing with Minneapolis, so different than Redding or Sacramento, is the dirt. In Redding we would hack away at the clay and rock, never able to dig very deep. Having to bring in top soil if we wanted anything to survive. It was the same when i worked on the landscaping of Brent's house. I'd try to plant roses and it took so much muscle just to reach the depth for one plant.

I didn't believe my eyes the first time i stuck a shovel in the Minnesota earth. Didn't believe the ease. I thought I'd be in for some hard labor, instead it was TOO easy. And when the shovel came up it was full of black richness. Still seems odd to my mind. Difficult to understand.

It took no time at all to remove the sod. To turn the dirt. To add bags of 'ingredients' to help with growth. I even found bat guano from the coffee shop/plant nursery/landscape architecture 'place' I had worked for that previous spring. I had learned some tips from the hippy who ran the nursery. He was quite passionate about all sorts of things. Very fun to listen to his extreme ideas of the world. I would listen to him when he came in for an espresso. He wore shorts too short for a man and tight t-shirts. Handsome, but smelt of body odor and told me my engagement ring was a blood diamond. I cried into the dish water, cleaning ceramic mugs.

Now I was married and had a little house and a huge lawn. the grass was a blank canvas just begging me to rip out sections of green and fill it with red and purple and orange.

I had no concept of the space a plant would need when it's fully grown. It was my first gardening experience in my own yard, in my own home, without my parents to advise me.

Our neighbor, Melva, an old woman who lived alone in a large house, a sage, she thought that the placement of the garden would not work well (we had many conversations over the small chainlink fence that kept my dog in the lot. We talked about gardening mostly, flowers). I agreed with her analysis. But it was the spot I chose and it'd be okay if it didn't work. There was always next year.

But then the garden absolutely exploded. Plants falling over eachother, crushing eachother. Producing too much! Things were going bad because it was just too much. Melva was sad to see the vegetables still there, over ripening, falling, blackening. She was so happy when I said she could come over and take all that she wanted. Smiling, she filled her apron with peppers and tomatoes. So happy.

I got it out of my system that summer... didn't know what to do with all the vegetables, that was too early on. Matt just didn't care for them much (I was still figuring out making food work for us).

Five years later I had Matt build me a wooden box along the side of the back of the house. Filled it with dirt. got a small wire fence (see, with two boy dogs, if you don't 'elevate' and 'rope off'... it'll get marked EVERY time they are outside.. and no one wants pee on their vegetables). I was smarter about the number of plants this time. Also focused more on herbs.

It was lovely. enjoyed the greek oregano and basil the most. the tomatoes weren't like my mom's... i think you NEED the heat for really good tomatoes. The Minnesota sun just didn't have it in her. Not enough power to produce the richness of flavor, the red balls came out starchy, mild.

Then we had our first freeze at the start of October. It caught me off guard. I didn't do all the things I had wanted to... dry the herbs. strip the tomatoes and peppers to freeze. And the next day everything was black. Dead so quickly. It was unfair.

And then it would be 7,8,9 months before another.

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