When I was a kid, one year my family had a garden plot in a community garden. I remember loading up into our big, brown, Buick station wagon. The five kids, the hoe, the rake, the shovel. I don’t know that I did much of the digging or hoeing or weeding, but I remember the fun of being there all together, watching our garden grow.
My mother has always had gardens. She had whole yards of tomatoes and peas and cucumbers and kale and lettuce and green beans and basil and oregano and thyme and rosemary. When I was a kid, a raspberry patch took up the whole south side of our house. And marigolds. Where ever my mother gardens, you’ll find marigolds. Sometimes the big, one-colored bright yellow or orange ones, but mostly the smaller, more private, more nuanced, and behind-the-scenes yellow, orange, and red combinations.
“Marigolds are good for gardens,” she tells me.
My last garden of my own was many years ago. I had a big garden on a piece of land and I loved going out in the hot sun and watering the plants, weeding around the onions, propping the tomatoes into place. But as the summer progressed, I went out less and less until I felt, finally, that I had abandoned my garden. Several weeks later, I returned to the garden with my kids. We first went to the strawberry patch. We had these amazing ever-lasting strawberries and they lived up to their name. There were still strawberries, well into the summer.
After such encouragement, we went and looked at the rest of the crops. There they were! Full, beautiful cabbages, ripe tomatoes, onions ready to be harvested, broccoli, and more chamomile than I knew what to do with.
It was an enlightening moment for me. The land, especially the land around here, with some of the richest soil in the country, is ready to grow food. I just need to help a little bit.
I’m ready to do it again. Today, my kids and I start planting in the garden in my back yard. My mother helped me get it ready. We took my compost and we threw in some worm casings and a bunch of dark compost from a local farmer. It is small and it looks great. I wouldn’t have done it without help, but now that there’s a black patch in my backyard, I’m excited to be out there. I’ve been watering the plot every morning. My kids and I are off to the farmers’ market to pick up some plants. I saw some beautiful tomato plants there a couple of weeks ago. I hope to find some kale, and some cucumbers. My mom started basil inside and she gave me fifteen of them to put in my garden.
As these things happen, some friends brought me raspberry bushes from their garden. I put them on the south side of my garage, close by the garden. Isn’t it funny how once you start something, suddenly the rest of the world tends to support it?
If it’s in my backyard, maybe I’ll be better about tending the garden. Molly, my five-year-old, loves to weed. And watering is fun for everyone. We’ll put up some structure for the cucumbers to climb on, and maybe we’ll even have some green beans. We’ll see how it goes. Who knows what we’ll end up growing.
One thing we know for sure: there will be marigolds.