Monday, April 16, 2012

Garden Nostalgia

Baby Nasturtium
Baby Nasturtium Seedling in an Egg Shell .

After a few days of good work (and most of the earth moving credit goes to Jeffrey), we have a reconfigured garden.  (You can see the garden about a month ago here.)  This is the view from my window, upstairs.

What you can see in this photo: strawberries to the right; garlic along the bottom; and a modest flower bed up along the top left corner.

What you can't see in this photo: hundreds of tiny little seeds planted in those two chocolate-colored beds.  Snow peas, sugar-snap peas, mache, arugula, tatsoi, scallions, bunching onions, lettuce mix, yaya carrots, french breakfast radishes, mokum carrots, easter egg radishes, red round turnips, as well as a spring "green mulch" ground cover.  And this is just the beginning.  The garden will be expanding to the left—beyond the edge of this photo.

Garden 4.16

Planting a vegetable garden has an especially big meaning for Jeffrey and me this year because this is the first time we have gardened in earnest since we were newly married.  Eight years ago this summer, we acquired our first garden together—a 20' by 20' plot in a Pittsburgh community garden, a mile walk from our apartment (after doing a little search I see that the Homewood Community Garden now has a website!).  

I have so many memories of how we made things work that first year with a garden so far away from home and no car for easy transport.  The first thing we did (in the fall) was to plant garlic (carefully transported all the way from Michigan) and cover the garden with makeshift mulch—leaves we raked up from along the surrounding forest.  

The following spring, after taking a bus to Home Depot, we bought as much fencing as we could roll up and fit in Jeffrey's camping backpack.  I remember the looks we got on the bus with a backpack full of four-foot wire fencing!  We supplemented the garden fence with eight-foot sticks collected from the neighboring forest, hoping to deter the fearless urban deer.  Then we ordered great quantities of seeds and started them inside, along our floor-to-celing apartment windows.  When Jeffrey and I went on a week-long business trip, we left the seedlings under the care of a friend—but sadly, most of the seed babies did not survive.  We were crushed but carried on and replanted.  All summer long we carried kitchen scraps from our apartment to our garden compost pile in buckets, in our backpacks.

At the end of our first full season in the garden, Amabel was born in our Pittsburgh apartment.  The garden grew into a wild jungle that fall (while we were on our babymoon), and we returned with an infant to an abundance of produce, waiting for us.  The lone hot pepper plant was aflame in red chillies in that last week of October.

The next summer, Amabel learned how to crawl alongside the garden.  We spent even more time there after finding kindred gardening spirits: Erin, Jack, and little Jack.  We joined our garden plots into one, picnicked with our new friends, and admired our growing babies all summer long.  Sweet Erin took the photos below.

the farm 024
Amabel on my back: June 2006
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Our Community Garden in Pittsburgh: affectionally called "the farm" .
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Jack and Amabel holding a nasturtium flower: August 2006  .

We moved home to Northern Michigan right before Amabel's first birthday.  Since then we have spent each growing season in a tiny urban yard surrounded by thick, old Maple trees and shade-loving perennials. . . until now.  This spring, at last, we have sun enough to grow vegetables!

To our dear Pittsburgh friends - we miss you.  We miss growing with you.  Please come play in our garden this summer!

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