It’s been too many years since I’ve had a proper vegetable garden, and I had forgotten just how restorative putting your hands in the dirt can be for the body and soul. We talk about being connected to the earth but for many of us it is an abstract notion rather than a daily practice. When I garden the metaphysical becomes physical as I plunge my fingers into the soil to check for moisture or to pull an unwelcome weed. I am forced to relax and walk slow out of necessity, looking for the hopeful sight of a seedling pushing its way toward the sun while checking the already established plants for color and vigor. The first flower on a pea shoot is a celebration, each grasping tendril on a cucumber vine a miracle of determination. The shocking red color of a ripe strawberry seems impossible after such a drab winter, and yet, there it is.
There have been set-backs, yes. The small patch of corn had to be replanted. I walked out one morning to find twenty eight perfectly spaced holes where the seeds once were. Now there are chicken wire cages over the corn until they finish sprouting, and I’ll have to do the same for the watermelon when I replant them later in the week. None of the hundreds of ten year old marigold seeds I planted came up (the only surprise here is that I stubbornly hung on to ten year old marigold seeds) so I’ll replant them with a fresh batch of seeds when I replant the watermelons.
Drought has become the norm in Texas, but the last day of March brought welcome relief in the form of two solid hours of a soft, gentle rain. Every plant in the garden stands a little taller and a lot greener, the Swiss chard and the kale already showing hints of coming magnificence. The next few days bring a good chance of even more much needed precipitation.
We have enough basil and tomatoes planted to keep us in Insalata Caprese and Neapolitan style pizzas for the entire summer, which makes me wonder what in the world we’ll do with all of the peppers, tomatillos, eggplant, okra and zucchini we’re growing. I’m certain we’ll come up with something.