Monday, April 06, 2009

Contemplations upon a packet of wax beans

The season of growth is again upon us.

Today it is snowing, but in contrast to the never-ending slogging that is January in Cleveland, I know that this snow will be gone in a day or two at most. I don’t mind snow as much when I am watching the maple trees bloom outside my window and the jonquils I planted in that little pot on my desk are starting to bloom. You can’t fool me, Mother Nature. It’s spring.

The weekend was spent, in large part, engaged in preparations for this year’s garden. We garden cooperatively with the neighbors in our little cul-de-sac. If we were in Los Angeles, they’d call us a commune and we’d be trendy. As it is, we’re in semi-rural Ohio, and it’s called being neighborly.

This is the third year of our little experiment in cooperative gardening, and I feel like we’ve really hit our stride. Where before, we’d each have our tiny patch with a couple tomato plants, some peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, and a bean plant or two, we’re now bordering on agri-business, with each yard being assigned plantings based on what has grown best the past two years. This year, I started several dozen seeds of each of various peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers, we have dug asparagus trenches in each yard (don’t know who will win the Asparagus Queen title among us), Lori has about 100 leeks in her yard, and Theresa has completely out-done herself with five different varieties of legumes. To that, we add melons, pumpkins, squash, herbs, okra (Lori did okra; I’m not sure who she thinks is going to eat it all, but I’ll let her have her fantasy), and a half-dozen other favorites that each family loves in their own way.

There’s nothing I can say about the satisfaction of growing your own food that Barbara Kingsolver hasn’t expressed more eloquently than I ever could. I’ll just say that on this snowy April afternoon, I’m dreaming of the smell of sun-warmed July earth and pasta sauce stirring on an outdoor camp stove, prepared from vegetables picked off their stems or pulled from the ground minutes before. Of starting dinner planning each week by sending the girls out into the neighborhood to see what’s ripe. Of Saturday afternoons spent with a hoe and a rake, accompanied by kibitzing neighbors who arrive with beer and laughter to “help”.

My girlfriend, Christy, often (only half-) jokes about how we will all survive if the world “goes Jericho”. I’d like to think we’d do pretty well in our little neighborhood. But in the meantime, we’re just eating better, and on less money, than we ever have and I’m grateful.

Zucchini, anyone?


Alison said...

This rocks. You rock.

winter said...

You make it all sound very tempting.

Ellie Creek Ellis said...

that's really great. my neighbor offered some of his garden space so i can plant some sugar pumpkins, i think i'll take him up on it!

i have onions, oregano and chives up right now...we'll see what else happens!

and btw, not many can write a sentence like Kingsolver, I love her novels...well, she and Edward Abbey!

have a good week!

Beanie said...

E --

Regarding Barbara Kingsolver: Nobody writes a sentence, tells a story or challenges your assumptions about the world, quite like she does. She's my contemporary literary hero.

Ellie Creek Ellis said...


and YES to Kingsolver!

Ellie Creek Ellis said...


Crabby McSlacker said...

Love Kingsolver too!

We just started growing vegetables last year, so are new at it (and to New England) and are still trying to figure out what grows well and what doesn't. Always sad when we screw it up, but totally pleased with our efforts when we actually get something edible. Hoping to learn from last years mistakes and have better luck this summer! Sounds like you have more of a green thumb and a great attitude.

Melissa said...

Barbara Kingsolver!!! I just read my first book by her (The Poisonwood Bible) and I am sooooo in love with her work. I was BLOWN AWAY.