Onion bulbs, red and yellow.
With roots in rural Arkansas, summer gardens were an integral part of life. Weeding and watering were drudgeries as a child, but eating homegrown produce well into the winter was more of a blessing than I knew. I was bound to my food through sweat and tears.
Life has taken me a little too far from my roots. I’ve learned to settle for hothouse tomatoes and wilted lettuce. Many days I find myself dreaming of a bountiful home garden, the smell of compost and the metallic taste of water from the garden hose fresh in my memory. Fresher than the imported produce I’m perusing.
Over the last few years, an occasional tomato, squash, and cucumber plant have kept my green thumb from shriveling up completely. Recent economic crises and salmonella scares have also prodded me to get serious about gardening. The desire to know exactly what I’m eating is becoming an obsession. I may be over-zealous and wild animals may harvest my veggies before I do, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try.
Garden plans for this year have so far involved purchasing heirloom seeds and sharing the cost with a few friends. Peat pots on a drafting table over a heater in my bedroom now hold the future of my tomatoes and peppers in their soggy hands.
Peat pots with unsprouted seeds.
Cool weather veggies (lettuce, carrots, onions, and beets) are in the living room waiting for me to clean up the garden space. My compost pile is starting to add up thanks in part to coffee grounds and veggie scraps collected from the office. And four oak logs liberated by the north Arkansas ice storm last month will hopefully grow a healthy crop of shiitake mushrooms.
Join me in my journey to see what becomes of these tiny seeds. It will be a lot of hard work, but the rewards and lessons learned will no doubt be worth it.
Clockwise from top: Blue Jade Corn, Clemson Spineless Okra, Brandywine (Sudduth's Strain) Tomato, Summer Crookneck Squash.