Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Back with a plan

So I have faded out for a while and now I'm back with a plan...a garden plan, that is. My reasons are complex so let me explain.

As the sunlight starts to creep in my window a little earlier I have started to get that urge to connect with the earth again. I grew up playing in a huge shared garden and had fruit trees intermingled in the redwood forest of my back yard. I grew tomatoes on my college apartment balcony in salvaged 5 gallon buckets atop old plastic milk crates. I even took responsibility for the lonely rose outside my office in the harsh, dry Baghdad summer; watering it with the leftover drops from our water bottles and nourishing it with our coffee grounds. For the past 2 years since moving to the DC metro area I have relied on our weekly share pickup trips to our CSA farm and the frequent u-pick bonuses to fulfill my longing to cultivate and harvest. And harvest we have. I have picked more green beans than I knew what to do with and all the strawberries I could carry; K has had the joy of picking and eating a fresh peach from atop my shoulders and digging with her bare hands in the northern Virginia dirt to fill her pail with potatoes and a few rocks. So its not that I am ever far removed from the earth and her bounty. But maybe I want to be even closer.

I live in an apartment and work full time (currently with a long commute too) and while I dedicate my Saturdays to good food and the farm life, sadly at some point I have to come home to earth that is not mine and a concrete patio. I have no yard to tend, no grass to mow, no big sunny windows for house plants and a 3 year old who might "re-pot" any indoor plants for the fun of it at the first chance she could get. So its not that I have space for a garden just calling my name, begging me to dig and plant. But maybe that's what challenges me.

I suppose you could say that with a half share of produce each week to use up for the majority of the spring and summer months and only one person to consume it (what K eats, when she eats hardly counts as another consumer except when we have berries) that we have access to plenty of fresh, local food. We also have a great year round farmers market where we can supplement any foods that don't come in our share. So its not that we are lacking access to fresh food. But even with the great choices our CSA grows and the many vendors at the market I still find that I can't get certain things that I want even when they are in season.

THIS is probably the biggest reason behind my garden plan. I want to put by some dried beans, savor a lemon cuke, have fresh herbs at my fingertips, relive my childhood though the favorite flowers of my memories and show my daughter the joy of sprouting a seed that turns into a plant whose fruit ends up on our plate or in a vase.

My patio does get good light, being almost South East facing and last year with the addition of a self-watering container I was able to keep some herbs from our share going until the first frost and in the case one over zealous chive almost until Christmas. So with renewed energy I have measured the patio, surveyed the light, plotted the space, researched container sizes, cut out little squares and rearranged everything until I got it all to fit, ordered the self watering containers, drooled over seed catalogues and finally placed my order. I set up a sturdy plastic utility shelf in front of the sunniest window where I plan to start my seeds and picked up some potting soil this week and now K and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our seeds. More to follow.


Christy said...

Sounds great! I can't wait to see pictures of all your wonderful plants.

Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener said...

That's wonderful. Herbs, especially are SO rewarding for the home cook, and most also fairly easy 9compared to other vegetables) to raise in pots. And you can harvest continuously.