Adjusting to a new climate has not been without difficulty. Transplanting by 400 miles meant I had a whole new set of gardening rules to deal with. I no longer had the brutal heat of an L.A. summer to deal with, but instead there were pounding winter rains, nights of occasional frost, and a whole new set of critters eager to munch away at my plants. (RIP, most of the spring strawberry crop.)
But now that the garden has established itself, I’ve got an idea of what’s worth having in the garden (herbs of course, peas, baby romaine, arugula, tomatoes, squash, pumpkin, corn, garlic, hops, and garlic) and what will be mercilessly devoured by bugs, squirrels, and deer (strawberries, sunflower seedlings, spinach, mesclun salad, eggplant). Having so much space made me really eager to grow as many different vegetables as I could, but I’ve now learned better. I still have enough of a variety to provide me with meals on the weekend, when work goodies and sandwich shops are farther away than a stroll down the hall.
The one stubborn point I’m sticking to is my strawberry plants. I won’t abandon them. Leaving the pots out in the yard meant that every time a beautiful berry was just almost ripe enough to eat, that bastard Bambi would come and munch it away. I brought them inside and put them in the little greenhouse above the kitchen sink, but they just don’t seem to be doing as well there. The berries seem more vulnerable to mold and the plants aren’t growing as vigorously. I’m hoping there’s room for them on a sunny patio at work, along with a bucket of salad that’s now grown enough to provide daily lunches if I cut judiciously.
Gardening is such a palpable example of good things coming to those that wait. More than once I almost gave up on the whole business as I was out there in the yard, chipping away at the rock hard, clay-filled soil so I could rip out the straggling remains of crabgrass and amend the soil to make it workable. I’ve now got an enormous border of rich black soil that’s holding moisture and giving me back much more than I put into it. The other day I came home from work and cut some chamomile and stevia to make tea. I grabbed a chair, and seated myself by the pea plant, and wrote the first chapters of a new novel as I sipped tea and picked peapods from among the little white blossoms and munched them whole. My housemate came home and asked what I was doing. I was able to reply with no small amount of satisfaction, “having dinner.”
Yesterday morning I picked a bunch of flowers and took down some herbs that have been drying. Some will go into tinctures for culinary or medicinal purposes, others will be saved for tea and still more for cosmetics and decorations. A handful of chamomile flowers went into my experimental batch of cream ale that I started yesterday morning. It’s bubbling away now, next to the bottle of vodka I’m infusing with violets (om nom nom) and the lavender tincture that will eventually become perfume and linen water.
I’m already looking forward to next year, because there will be so much less preparatory work to do for cultivation. I try not to think about whether or not I’ll still be at this house. I have no plans not to be, but I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t plan too much to stay in one location for long. But that doesn’t mean while I’m here that I won’t put down some roots and watch them grow.