I’ve had a lot of gardens in my life. When I was small, we had a fertile garden in the back yard. It was a big vegetable garden that spread into our neighbors’ yard; me and my parents and our neighbor Caroline all worked in this garden. We grew peas, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, sunflowers, eggplants, tomatoes, spinach and other vegetables I’m forgetting. The garden was just at the edge of the woods behind our house. There were railroad tracks not far away and once in a while when I was weeding or playing with beetles in the garden I would hear the train whistle and this was reassuring, then.
In my first real office job out of college, I started a garden in egg crates and milk cartons on the windowsill. The basil, cilantro and mint died slow, painful deaths. Through a seven degrees of separation type affair, I was interviewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter on my garden, and if you google my name, sometimes this still comes up. But I haven’t googled myself in a while. Really.)
Now I have a garden on the balcony of our third story apartment. A soup cup, coffee cup, cardboard garden. With peas, beans, dill, thyme, cilantro, zucchini, mint, tomatoes. Not enough sunlight, I worry, barely enough space. But the young plants keep growing, and most of them survived a nasty hailstorm a few weeks ago. I also grow things—spider plants & ferns now— under the skylight, and on the smaller windows; anywhere there’s light, really.
Will I ever have a garden in the actual ground again? Tomatoes growing out of liqour store boxes and cat litter containers are fine, but slightly depressing. Harboring a growing fear that the cherry tomato doesn’t really want to be there, feels somewhat cheapened by being stuck in a Gordon’s Gin box. This is silly: not only do I keep a compost bucket busting over with black gold,there a lot of worms working hard in there, and in the bigger pots of growing vegetables; none of the plants can say they’re alone in this. And I’ve arranged pretty rocks all around, this must count for something. Think it’s absurd to worry about a plant’s “feelings”? Then don’t read “The Secret Lives of Plants”. And definitely don’t start a garden.