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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where love Grows



It was 2005 and at forty-five I’d finally fallen in love and moved to Texas to be with the love of my life. This would be a big adjustment for a city girl like me. John supported my decision to give up my almost 20 year job in retail to become a homemaker and take time to explore my creative interests. I wanted to cook, bake from scratch, write my masterpiece, garden, craft, do yoga and put retail management on the shelf for a while to discover more of who I was inside.

My main priority quickly became learning all I would need to know to get our food choices in line with our health goals. I read, researched experimented and developed a plan of action. We would eat fresh foods in season, prepared simply in moderate proportions. We would eat smaller meals more often and make our meals interesting and delicious. In no way were we prepared to sacrifice our love of trying new foods, fine wines and sweet treats. We were determined to find that balance between our health and quality of life while never losing the pure joy we find in eating all kinds of foods. 

 Forward to February 2010 John and I began talking about Valentines Day gifties. We had been learning about how the food we buy is sourced, reading Michael Pollan and realizing that the next step in our evolution would be to choose ingredients we felt were clean and ethically produced. To that end we decided that since Valentines Day is about our hearts, we would build beds and plant each other a garden that would care for and nurture our bodies and souls. I could think of no better gift. John built the beds and we prepared them for crops. He’d grown up in Ohio and his family had gardened every year so he was very familiar with what would follow. I grew up in Manhattan and did not know the first thing about what I was in store for. I did remember that my first year with John we planted a tomato and a squash plant and the feeling of bringing something into the kitchen that I had grown was so rewarding. I took photos as if we’d had a baby.

With limited knowledge and unlimited enthusiasm I set out to comb the Internet for information. It’s funny sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know till you know it. I looked up planting layouts but forgot to look up planting schedules. I planted summer kale and broccoli, which I eventually found out are crops that thrive in cool weather. I learned what happen when you don’t get the composters ratio balance correct (its not pretty). I learned those pretty Disney like white moths will, if unchecked, decimate my crops. On the other hand I learned that the pesto I create from my own basil will transport me to herbal ecstasy and that my non ending crop of cucumbers will provide succulent bread and butter pickles that I will be enjoying all winter long.
During this process I made a serendipitous connection between my twitter account and my inaugural gardening endeavor. I love it when two hobbies collide and both are made more enjoyable by the collision. I discovered a community, gardeners of all sorts sharing information and helpful hints. There were vegetable gardeners Landscapers, community activist gardeners and cooking enthusiasts like me, making the move to grow their own. I met some friends who deal with the unsung finer points of making ones garden a success, providing tools, seeds, fertilizer and d├ęcor. I learned of the magical properties of Moo Poo Tea, which insects were my friends, which were foes and how be an obgyn for squash blossoms when the bees never showed up to pollinate them.
John built these tiered strawberry beds
 My first year with a garden has provided me with more than just fresh vegetables. I have gained new friends, a feeling of accomplishment and the knowledge that anyone can stretch their boundaries beyond their own definitions of who they are and become what they dream of being.