My first garden was the direct result of an epiphany. What happened was this.
A few years ago the state of the economy – banks crashing, corporations folding and 401K values plummeting – had us more than a little concerned. That, coupled with the possibility of continued unseasonable and unpredictable weather, started us on a program of home emergency preparedness. We already owned a wood burning stove, and we bought a couple cords of wood.
Recalling our four days without power after Hurricane Isabel, we invested in a generator. After a number of devastating storms beginning with Katrina, FEMA and The Red Cross were advising people to have anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks of food on hand at home at all times. So we began to research what was involved in a long term food storage program. We began to stock our cellar with canned goods and water, with grains and beans in 5 gallon buckets. And then one day, in the midst of all the frenetic and uneasy hoarding, I was standing in my cellar, looking at my number ten cans full of freeze-dried food, and I realized that we were going about this all wrong.
Real abundance lies not in accumulation but in replenishment.
So near the end of that June, pretty much as an afterthought, I planted a small garden. Using a shovel, I turned over a rectangle of grass, about 80 square feet, right in the sunny middle of our back yard. I got four tomato plants from a big box store that I thought were Roma tomatoes but which turned out to be something more like oval-shaped cherry tomatoes. They grew to be only about thigh high, and produced pretty well all summer. I had an eggplant but it didn’t make it. I had a Black Beauty zucchini from which I harvested a few baseball-bat-sized fruits before the vine borers got it. I had a small melon patch that produced quite well, and a few pumpkin plants that never amounted to much. I grew a gigantic and gangly okra plant that I could not keep up with harvesting. That was pretty much it.
But I was hooked.
Every year after that saw an increase in the size of our garden, and in the diversity of crops, much of which has been chronicled here on Grit. And boy have I learned a few things along the way – one of which is that a vegetable garden can become an obsession. Like a great romance, it contains elements of both inevitability and insurmountable odds. Like a great love, one’s garden is both familiar and constantly surprising.
I’ve recently put together a slim volume of my experiences called Confessions of a Vegetable Lover which is available as a print or an e-book at Amazon, Smashwords and B&N.com. For the month of July only, you can get the e-book for free at Smashwords if you use the coupon code SSWIN at checkout. I am also currently hosting a giveaway for this book at GoodReads. Three free print copies are up for grabs. If you’d like to sign up for the chance to win a free copy, you can do that here. (Log in and scroll down the list of giveaways until you find the book!) If you are not already a member of GoodReads, all you need to join is an e-mail address. The giveaway closes on 10 July.
My first novel, Big Work, is also available in print and e-book at Amazon, Smashwords and B&N.com. At Smashwords, you can use the Coupon Code SSW50 at checkout to get 50% off of the e-book (regularly priced $2.99) for the month of July only!