I mentioned a few writing topics in the previous post. Basically, I am taking the advice of the social media folks: everything is content.
Since we are at the height of summer, gardening plays a big role in my life. I have always been the flower gardener in the family, but this year, I also planted a vegetable garden. It is dominated by tomatoes but also includes the standard stuff: peppers, eggplants, okra, cucumbers, and herbs like basil, oregano and parsley.
Gardening is, as they say, in my blood. My father always had a vegetable garden and the yard was filled with flowers, especially roses. Even now, at 87, he plants flowers outside, including those roses, and also tends about 100 orchids that live in the greenhouse he built in the basement of their retirement-community condominium. My maternal grandmother, named Daisy, lived in the city but kept chickens in the backyard along with her victory garden and a beautiful peach tree who limbs hung with the succulent fruit each year.
I have always found a way to garden. While I am fortunate to have almost unlimited space here on the farm, even when I lived in an apartment in Los Angeles, I grew houseplants along with pots of lettuce and peppers on the tiny balcony.
Gardening brings opportunities unavailable in other ways. Besides getting me out into nature, it forces me to really see the natural world, connecting with its rhythms and learning how plants fits into the environment. I have a better understanding of how my actions impact the ground beneath me so that, while summer is the major focus of my work, there are things I can do throughout the year to help the soil help me and my plants. Knowing the difference between soil and dirt is a good starting point and this article from the Napa Master Gardener provides a great introduction:
Remember: there is a difference between soil and dirt. Dirt is what you get on your clothes and hands while working in the soil. Soil is made up of elements that have been decomposing since the earth was created.
Finally, a word of encouragement to those of you who don’t think you can garden for whatever reason: no green thumb, no space, no time. I count any relationship with a living plant to be gardening, and there are houseplants that refuse to die despite your best efforts.
As for me, I’ll be outside with my hands in the soil! A few pictures of the current situation in the flower beds for your enjoyment: