Friday, May 22, 2009


I have always had a black thumb. I love plants, and long dreamed of having a lush garden, but somehow had never been able to translate that into reality. Years ago, when my kids were little, we had a plot in the community garden at Family Student Housing at UCR, but our patch never really took off. I think we grew one anemic watermelon and a couple of stunted cucumbers, but that was about it. Thankfully our neighbors were generous, letting us pluck their candy-sweet cherry tomatoes (especially delicious when warm off the vine), and giving us baskets of squash and eggplant.

This spring, Michael and I decided to try our hands at gardening together. We attended a class on edible landscaping, did a bunch of reading, talked with friends who were also planning gardens. It was exciting to see how many people we knew were making this leap into growing food--we even found out that the people who moved into my last house started a local organization, Growcology, dedicated to educating the public about organic gardening and sustainability. One dear friend used being laid off from her teaching job as an opportunity to follow her dreams and start her own regenerative gardening/permaculture business. I love being part of this upswell.

We planted corn, beans, peas, lettuce, eggplant, peppers, honeydew, cucumber, loofa (which I had always thought was a sea sponge, not a gourd!), pumpkins, sunflowers, onions, and four kinds of tomatoes (like the true writer geek I am, I chose two of the varieties of tomatoes based on my books coming out next year--yellow pear tomatoes for PEARS and Abe Lincoln tomatoes for MY LIFE WITH THE LINCOLNS.) Some we started from seed, others from seedlings from the nursery and the farmers' market. It was right around the time that we were doing all this planting that--unknown to us--the baby was conceived. It feels fitting that the baby began when so much other life was germinating around us.

Not all the seeds took, and some of the plants withered quickly in the sun, but many others have taken root--the stalks of corn are growing tall and sturdy, the peppers and eggplant and peas are blossoming, and we've already been able to harvest some of the lettuce. Onions that we had given up on started to push through the soil weeks after we expected them to--some cucumber plants popped up weeks after their sister seeds, as well. The tomatoes are especially exciting, the vines tall and shaggy and full of green fruit. The green zebra tomatoes were the first to start burgeoning, and it's been so lovely to watch them grow rounder and fuller as my belly starts to get rounder and fuller, too. It makes me feel part of something bigger than myself--part of a deeper cycle. Such abundance!

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