Monday, August 26, 2013

Garden Bounty

A few months ago on this blog, I implored readers to grow something, ANYTHING, for the sake of appreciating where food comes from. Whether a simple pot of a favorite herb on the kitchen windowsill or a monstrous garden overflowing with fruits and veggies, there's nothing quite like getting your hands a little dirty and enjoying the freshness, quality and connection to the earth that only gardening can offer.

Since writing that post in the spring, I have spent the last few months puttering in my very modest garden, delighting in the bounty that simple soil, water and sun have produced for us. I love that I've spent summer peeking out my window to see if the prior day's sun or rain has resulted in new blooms where veggies will soon grow in. I love that spiders, while a nuisance in the house, are a joy to see in the garden where their delicate webs protect my veggies from hungry bugs. And I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with picking something in the yard to prepare for the evening meal.

After attempting my first garden last year with some successes and some failures, this year was much the same. Some things came in splendidly (tomatoes, bell peppers and rosemary did exceptionally well), while others didn't quite work out so great (summer squash, leeks and onions didn't turn out the way I anticipated or, in the case of the squash, failed miserably despite great success last year).

But it's this game of great seasons and poor seasons, big successes and total failures, and constant learning and growing that spurs me on to try again next year. Not to mention the amazing flavors you simply can't buy in the grocery store.

Now that the summer growing season is nearing its end, and I'm square in the middle of reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a book about her family's year of living off the bounty of their farm, their animals and the produce and meats of their corner in Appalachia, I'm already getting excited for next year.

I have big dreams for next year's garden. Thanks to the need for a full fence replacement on our 1/2 acre yard next spring, we're planning to expand my tiny little side-of-the-house plots into one large plot where I can garden to my little heart's content. I dream of all the amazing veggies and fruits we will get to enjoy through the season and beyond. And I dream of getting to share our bounty with coworkers who have so generously shared theirs with us, and of sharing with our neighbors as a way of getting to know them a bit better.

All of this is to say that if you did garden this year, I hope you were impacted as profoundly as I have been by it. That you've not only savored the amazing flavors of truly fresh food, but that your soul has perhaps grown a bit too in appreciation for some of the simplest things in life. And, if you weren't able to garden this year, start planning now for next year. It can be as easy as growing potted herbs over the fall and winter near a window in your home, or reading a gardening book to gain inspiration. Either way, I implore you once again to grow something - you'll be amazed at the bounty you experience both physically and spiritually.

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