“It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a row of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from an Old Manse
My husband and I put our first pea seeds and tomato plants into the earth 12 years ago. We didn’t know anything about soil or last frost dates or planting zones. We knew to water well, but we were also college students and newly married and our plants were prone to shrivel with thirst one week, and turn yellow from too much water the next. We persevered with our efforts though, and the plants grew. By high summer, we were eating sun-warmed peas and tomatoes that we plucked from the backyard, and not from plastic bins at the grocery store. Something bloomed inside of me that summer of my first garden. Something about eating food that wouldn’t have grown without our actions or our care. It gave me a sense of power and also of peace. We haven’t been without a garden since.
This year, we have two gardens to tend. I have three raised beds in the backyard of the house we live in where I grow lettuce, carrots, radishes, onions, scallions, snap peas, herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers. I like to call it my kitchen garden, or my potager if I’m feeling fancy. We also have a large plot on the 40-acre farm that my husband grew up on where we grow the big guns: corn, more tomatoes, shelling peas, beans, squash, pickling cucumbers, potatoes and garlic. The farm is 45 minutes away from where we live, and during the summer it will be prudent for us to go there a few times a week to manage the weeds, the watering and the harvesting. It’s a lot of work, especially since we both have jobs and two little girls to take care of as well. But our family’s ultimate goal, and our dream, is to live on that farm and grow or raise the majority of the food we eat ourselves, and so it’s work we welcome and look forward to.
We’ve grown a lot of different food in a lot of different places in the last 12 years. Our gardens have been big, and our gardens have been small. However, the thrill we feel when putting something as insignificant as a seed into the ground and then the benediction born of watching those sprouts and sprigs emerge and explode towards the sun is always the same. It is monumental and immeasurable at the same time.
It is never anything less than a miracle.