ME AND MY GARDEN
After the last full moon tide in May along the coast of Maine, no matter if it’s 50 degrees and drizzling, serious gardeners slip on their rubber boots and gloves, then grab trowels and hoes to start planting their vegetable gardens.
Some plants can go in the ground earlier, like peas and lettuces. But the bulk of a Maine Victory Garden must wait until the ground has warmed up from the long cold winter. By Memorial Day weekend, and this year despite the coldest May on record, it finally has.
Oh the hopes! And the dreams! British poet laureate Alfred Austin phrased it best: “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body but the soul.”
This year I’m convinced that every one of my little starter plants and seeds will thrive. Not like last year when my four zucchini plants slumped away in late July. Or like the year before when I planted celery that, for most of the season, contended for a cover photo on Vegetarian Times. But at harvest time, it tasted bitter and was completely inedible. Or the prior year’s peppers or the prior prior year’s cauliflower. I plant lots every year but sometimes growing vegetables can be as fickle as winning even a $10 Megabucks.
That never stops me from greeting the new gardening season with unabashed enthusiasm. I’m blissful as I plant several varieties of tomatoes, pole beans and Italian beans, eggplants and peppers, pickling and lemon cucumbers, butternut and acorn squash, yellow squash and zucchinis, onions and leaf lettuce. The soil is loose with lots of squirming worms. I wield my hoe until there’s not a weed in sight. I LOVE my garden.
“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust,” wrote Gertrude Jekyll, a noted British horticulturist.
English author Gertrude Stein added, “A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all, little by little, it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.” I’m counting on it.
Here is my garden! I admit, it’s not exactly a looker and certainly doesn’t compare to the photos I see on the Gardener’s Supply Company website. Yet…!
I visit my plot early every morning. I talk to and encourage those little onions and beans. I grin when I see the first yellow blossoms on the tomato plants. And I concur with author Peter Mayle, who wrote, “There is nothing I like better at the end of a hot summer’s day than taking a short walk around the garden. You can smell the heat coming up from the earth to meet the cooler night air.”