My love of gardening feels simultaneously like the most natural thing in the world, and like a bewildering surprise. Growing up there were always gardens in our suburban backyard, and my parents even pushed the grass envelope and set up gardens in our tiny front yard. But I never paid much attention to them, other than to admire the colorful drawings on graph paper that my mother would make, or to hope no one would catch me climbing through the garden to hop the fence so I could cut through to the neighbour’s house. (Getting caught cutting through my dad’s garden was sure to get everyone from the neighbours’ kids to the paperboy an outraged earful, even when you thought he was nowhere in sight!)
When I first got my own bit of dirt, in my own suburban plot, recreating this garden just seemed like the thing to do. I made the colorful pictures on graph paper, built a binder full of sketches and plant info, and hauled cubic yard after cubic yard of topsoil and mulch from the driveway into the backyard. I was really into flowers then, especially roses, but anything big and showy was bound to get my attention. This first garden and I parted ways after a few years, and it wasn’t until about 4 years later that I found myself the owner of a 125year-old house, with a jungle-like, neglected back yard crying out to be tamed. With so much space right outside my kitchen door, I naturally found my way into vegetable gardening, and I’ve just never found my way back out.
The real appeal is the magic. we grow up so sheltered from the idea that our food comes from nature, rather than from the grocery store, that the act of eating something that you picked off a plant seems magical, unorthodox, and a bit dangerous – exactly what I look for in a
man hobby. Making little things grow big is intoxicating enough in itself, but making little things grow big and then EATING THEM?! Pure magic.
Though I still have one foot planted in that vegetable garden outside my old kitchen window, I’ve once again uprooted and transplanted myself to a more-or-less urban apartment in New Haven, Connecticut. My tiny back deck presents a whole new challenge in vegetable gardening in containers, and this blog chronicles the trials and triumphs of garden-less gardening in the city!
In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death.