The news is ugly. The virus isn’t completely gone and my friends are still nervous - what’s the final say on the masks? World peace is like an acrobat balancing on a high wire. But, my garden, my earthy spot of joy, is on steroids cranking out berries, beans and tomatoes.
My life-long fascination with gardening started when I was a little kid, scraping the ground with a stick to plant a few carrot and radish seeds in the densely-packed earth we called our back yard. The plants struggled to grow and by the end of the summer I harvested a handful of orange stubs and tiny balls of red. It was enough to stir a life long yearning to grow food from the ground.
Fast forward to acres of community garden space in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was during grad school when I discovered one more incredible thing about my college town of the 70’s - it sponsored free garden space and water. I signed up and began planting tomatoes from seed inside my apartment during the late winter, an endless season that hemorrhaged into April in the north. By June, with the frost behind us, I rented a rototiller, planted, watered and weeded my way through summer. By August, I learned the art of canning - tomatoes and peaches from a nearby orchard that we’d picked by the bushel. I still have many of those mason jars. Over the years they've held buttons, crayons for the children and once retro became vogue, lemonade and ice tea.
Life, followed an unpredictable route, but eventually it brought me to my raised garden at our lake house. Learning to compete with birds, chipmunks and deer while gardening organically has been an ongoing challenge. This year though, knock on wood and anything else solid, I may have won the war.
My raspberries are delicious, the green bean plants are cranking out so many beans I may have to blanch and freeze them for winter soups, and the basil plants are singing, make pesto, make pesto! The tomatoes are still weeks from picking, but they’re abundant - firm green fruits hanging throughout my little patch of dirt. Marinara sauce and gazpacho, here we come!