The weather is slowly getting warmer down here in Orange County and I couldn't be happier about that. With the longer days and more direct sunlight, the signal from nature has gone out that its time to plant my vegetable garden. Months of thinking about it, researching online, and talking with relatives at length of what I should do have finally come to fruition. Last weekend, I finally planted my garden.
Last time, I showed you the raised beds I slapped together in an evening of work. Even though they ended up being a different heigh than I intended, I think my mistake probably worked out for the best. The amount of soil I would have had to put in these beds would have been far greater if they were taller. A six inch height has turned out to be pretty good.
I got started last Sunday around 10 in the morning with Sarah's aunt who has been gardening all of her life and is just one of many green thumbs in our family. We got some soil purchasing out of the way and then headed to a local nursery to pick up some baby versions of the plants I wanted to put in to the backyard garden. After a quick trip to the nursery, I came home with the following:
6 Bush Bean plants - These little guys produce green beans but don't require a steak or netting to climb. They grow as a bush, hence the name!
1 Heirloom Cucumber - I have only heard of tomatoes being referred to as heirloom and the picture on the label looks like a standard cucumber. No matter, I'm sure it will be good.
1 Zucchini - Apparently these guys grow like no other. I love zucchini and can't wait to have fresh ones around to cook with. Almost every meal I make has zucchini incorporated somehow.
1 Yellow Crookneck Squash - I've been cooking with yellow squash a lot lately as well. I though it would be a good idea to put one of these in the garden too.
1 Grape Tomato - This is a cherry tomato variety as the fruit is pretty small. They grow in bunches like grapes which is what gave them their name.
1 Sun Gold Tomato - Another cherry variety. These guys are gooooood. Pick a few off the plant, wash them off, and have them with lunch and you are set. They pack an amazing amount of flavor and I can't wait to horde them all for myself. (I'm lying, I'll share)
1 Black From Tula (heirloom) - The first of my non-cherry variety of tomatoes. True to its name, the skin of this variety is close to black in color. This is supposed to be good for slicing and eating on sandwiches and such.
1 Mr. Stripey (heirloom) - A combo of green and red stripes, its got a unique look and should be pretty tasty
1 San Francisco Fog (heirloom) - This one is named after the fact that it grows really well in coastal climates. I thought I would try it out since we're living by the beach again. Its a deep red color and resembles the classic tomato you see in the store.
1 Hillbilly Potato Leaf (heirloom) - An awesome name for a really awesome look. This combo of yellow, orange, red and pink skin looks so good you KNOW its packed with a great flavor.
One could argue that I might have overshot in terms of quantity of plants to start out with. Well, that's the nature of me and my gardening. I'm going big and hoping even half of them survives my attempts to care for them. I still need to pick up some flowers to attract some bees and some herbs to add to my cooking arsenal. Meanwhile, I cleaned up my dirt pile and bought a plastic compost bin where my organic refuse will be stored and will hopefully turn into wonderful planting mix after the miracle of chemistry happens.
Every day this week I've come home, changed my clothes, and headed straight out into the yard. Weeds need to be pulled, dirt moved around, stuff cleaned up, and watering completed. My plants are babies right now and I'm a brand new gardener. I'm getting excited about ever little change I see. The second day of its existence in my yard, one of the bush bean plants graduated from two leaves up to four. I was overjoyed to see him stretching into the air and growing leaves. My tomato plants are growing at different rates but are spreading their branches. Zucchini is already going crazy and multiplying its limbs and unfolding new leaves. The rate these little guys are growing is amazing to me.
This isn't just a new hobby, its a new way of living my life. I haven't touched dirt or felt a bead of sweat drip off of my forehead since I was a child. Physically, I've taken the path of least resistance since I was a teenager. My body suffered from this tendency to stay sedentary with the loss of muscle I built through the natural process men go through shortly after they graduate into adulthood. I've had pneumonia three times in my life and I think the last time happened simply because I just didn't move and do anything physical. Now I'm out in the setting sun after work, getting dirty, sweating, and testing the strength of my back and arms by lifting buckets of dirt, building up the garden, and bending to pull weeds.
If you still visit this blog often, you'll notice I have an annoying habit of trying to end every blog post with something I think is insightful about my own life. Some sort of observation that is supposed to get the point across that I am a deep thinker. The thing is, I'm not actively looking for experiences that teach me something about life so that I can write about them. All I wanted to do was make use out of piece of dirt, grow some food, and make my cooking more tasty with some home grown vegetables. But as usual, while writing with a glass of wine at my side, I've figured out that a simple hobby can mean so much more than just pushing dirt around and getting plants to grow. I'm not going to claim to have gone through any hardships in life, I've had it pretty easy by all accounts. But when I'm out in the sun as its setting over the California coast, the breeze is drying the sweat on my face, and the dirt on my gloves is crumbling and falling at my sides, I can't help but feel healed.