New beginnings. I’m striving for organic creation. Pure conception. The chance to nurture something substantial and tangible. To trust instincts. To assume responsibility for an entity whose course of success extends far beyond my control, yet solely depends on my ability to be in control. This is why I’m going to garden.
It’s already mid-January and it’s teetering over 85 degrees. With unpredictable weather so far—and looking back at how summer reached unheard of, low temperatures last year—my attempts to start my first legit vegetable and herb garden will be a journey full of discovery. I’ve done some modest gardening over the years. Picked up some solitary herbs sold outside of Whole Foods and transplanted them into a pot. Purchased some teenage tomato plant varieties and popped them in random areas around my back yard, hoping that at least one spot would do. They’ve survived to make it into a fun salad. They felt very low maintenance.
Last May I made a failed attempt to start from my own little seedlings: the peppers I started never survived past a week of life, and the tomato plants did grow, slowly, and teased me with a few little buds—but somehow my apparent cluelessness stunted their growth and they never made it past a foot tall or have the ability to produce more than a couple of fruit larger than a green olive. One by one each plant dropped like bees; twelve plants became eight, then down to six. I gave away the three strongest in pots to Editors at Angeleno, as I had so confidently boasted about and offered to give to them weeks before. Only one of them produced “quite good” tomatoes, I was told. But I have a feeling the editor just felt badly for me and made an effort to relieve my embarrassment.
So I was left with three of my own anorexic stalks, and they had a slow, torturous death. I picked off the only fruit that had managed to turn vibrant red. Though it was only an inch long, it was a great tasting tomato. And I expected a lot less from it, but after tasting I grew increasingly sad, realizing I didn’t have the ability to help it reach its full potential. The vines all turned pale and yellow, wilted away, and eventually crumbled in on itself. I’m so sorry…
It was too late when I realized I should take a cue from the spontaneously regenerated tomato vines that somehow made their way into obscure areas throughout my back yard. I spotted a yellow baby cherry tomato plant in a semi-shaded area under the windowsill, inside pots that were home to a bunch of pansies, and also near my tangelo tree, nestled next to patches of mint and oregano that ran wild. How did they end up here? Why these spots? By looking at the time of year they had sprouted and matured, I realized I was WAY off with my concept of when I should sprout and transplant. I vowed I’d never allow ignorance and development of neglectful habits again.
The photo above is the area in my backyard I plan to cultivate and construct a 4×4 raised wood bed. First I removed any erroneous weeds and transplanted out-of-place flowers and pots (like solitary rose bushes and green ground cover plants who somehow stuck out like a sore thumb). I also had to dig out an old tree stump that’s been taking up the prime garden area for nearly 20 years. It took me a good 30 minutes to pry it’s age-old roots out…
So here we go, Spring. I’m ready for you. I’ve researched your temperaments, I’ve plotted my approach. I’ve scheduled my time to fit yours but how I will take full advantage of you. And I expect you to comply.