#24: How the Garden Grows

Imagine: me, an urban gardener!

I love being an urban gardener. It’s taking a while for us to figure it all out—how to keep out the squirrels, for instance—but we’re getting it, and our dinner plates are feeling the bounty.

We’re growing lots of different things this year, and even rotating “crops” a bit. The most beautiful surprise is the okra plants that tower like small trees and flower the most gorgeous blooms. The biggest surprise in general was the butternut squash, which taught us that seeds never go in the compost. We let some of the squash grow, though if we hadn’t trimmed it back, it would have taken over the whole garden, and maybe a good part of our yard, too. Anyway, we have two stunning squash now. Who knew? And broccoli! It takes its time growing into the huge plant it becomes, but then the crowns begin to form, and voila! We eat broccoli from our own backyard. Amazing!

We’re a couple weeks away, I’d say, from ripe tomatoes, while the green beans seem to be about done. Soon we should have new arugula, which had its first successful run in the early summer, and is able to be planted again in July. The arugula takes the place of the kale that gave us all it had to give by the end of June. So far I don’t see any peppers or onions, which I can’t explain but wish I could.

I love checking the progress of our veggies every day, watching the okra go from pinky-finger size to full-grown overnight. I love picking green beans at 5 and serving them to Bella at 6. I love spending less money and time in the produce section at the grocery store. And one thing I especially love that I didn’t expect is eating what’s in season. Yes, we might have roasted okra and zucchini quesadillas ad nauseam for a couple of months, but then they’re gone, and we’re on to eggplant and tomatoes for a while. We’re challenged to come up with new ways to enjoy the veggies so we don’t get sick of them, and we’re not discouraged because we know they’ll flood our crisper drawers for only so long.

It’s a wonder of the world to be able to watch where your food comes from, to watch it grow from a seed to a third of your dinner plate. Start with a strawberry plant if your thumb is not so green. I guarantee you’ll find the pleasure in watching the berries grow and ripen. Just be sure to wrap chicken wire around your sweet plant. Squirrels are the kleptomaniacs of the urban garden.