It’s been over 10 years since I’ve had a vegetable garden. Three houses ago, in Los Angeles, we had a little two-bedroom place with a big back yard where I put in four 4×8 beds plus a few smaller plots, along with hundreds of feet of soaker hose, and grew just about all the produce we could possibly need. Much of these organic veggies also found their way into the homes of friends and neighbors, and into the dishes I prepared for my Yogi Eats catering company. I did all that work, digging, double digging, composting, weeding, squeezing off the suckers from tomato vines, and, of course, the best part of all: harvesting basketsful of vibrant veggies and being able to bite into a tomato still warm from the sun, or an ear of corn picked only a moment before. This is a sacred heaven, yes? Sometimes when I would walk back there, especially in the early morning after sunrise, the air itself seemed filled with a magical energy. Magical like faeries and elves, garden sprites and butterflies.
As we all know, life happens and things change. The garden got smaller, and then one year I just could not get around to preparing the soil and getting things planted. Time went by and my good intentions couldn’t keep up with it. After that, it was a good year if I got a couple of tomato starters planted.
Since we moved to our home in Bakersfield, I have had tomatoes for most summers. It seems a sin to not at least have a potted tomato plant or two. I have wanted to put in a vegetable garden, but the amount of physical work and energy it takes to get the soil ready and make lovely raised beds has been far too intimidating. I am 20 years older than I was when I started that last garden and while I feel I am pretty strong, healthy and energetic, I’m just not up to that laborious prep. I also could not decide on where in our lovely yard to put the beds.
Yesterday I turned a new leaf! David, my gardener, and I went out to the lumber store and I bought enough untreated redwood to make 2 4×8 raised beds. No more double digging for me! David got the first one constructed by the afternoon. Isn’t it beautiful? This one is right outside the French doors of my bedroom, so each morning when I part the curtains to welcome the day, I will see it out there and be reminded to go out, get my hands in the earth, and say hello to my sprouting babies. That morning ritual of walking in the garden, pulling some weeds, thinning out the radishes, and other tasks, is like a garden healing meditation. That’s really what it is. Every woman should have a garden.
Next week David is coming and is bringing a pickup truck full of soil from his farm, where he and his wife Lili have their own organic vegetable garden and raise cows, goats, a horse or two, and some chickens… all on the kind of feed these animals are designed to eat… happy, cared for animals… that happen to poop. He will take some of that manure, good soil, and some of my compost (I’ve been composting for the last year, getting ready for this day) to get a good mix. I am leaving it up to him. He knows what’s he’s doing. He’s got the men,the muscles, and the time.
It’s a little late in the season to start a garden. Especially here in Bakersfield, where summer is about 7 months long. So I will look for some good sized starters at the farmers market… heirloom tomatoes, zuchetta, green beans, cucumbers… really whatever I see that strikes my fancy. I also noticed that I may have some kabocha squash growing out of my compost pile. I’ll move some of those into the raised bed… after the soil has had a few weeks to rest a bit.