My Other Garden

I spent the morning of my birthday completely away from my writing, tending to my other garden: the one I’m cultivating in my yard.

First I tweaked and polished projects I already had well underway. I cleared out the yellow daffodil leaves, pulled some weeds, uprooted grass that had confused the flower bed for the lawn, and tucked two basil plants (one Genovese, one Thai) and one hot pepper (Thai) in among the flowers in the front bed.

Then I turned to my main work in progress: the veggie patch near the garage. I had my first veggie garden last year, using compost I purchased. Because I wanted the garden to look good with the curving line of the flower bed behind it, I made it circular. Because it was my first attempt at growing vegetables, I kept it to a modest 3 feet in diameter. And, also because it was my first attempt at growing vegetables, I crowded in a little of everything: lettuce, parsley, basil, peppers, several varieties of tomato, and some flowers to make it pretty. It worked out okay, but like a short story with a novel’s worth of characters and subplots, it really had too much going on for such a small space.

This year, I decided to focus, with just four tomato plants. I stopped by a plant sale and bought one “Sun Gold” (which I adored eating off the vine at my beloved Intervale Community Farm in Burlington), one “Super Sweet 100” (because my mother-in-law swears by them), one “Yellow Brandywine” (because they’re heirloom and, well, yellow) and one “Paul Robeson” (just because).

Before I put them in the ground, I opened the drawer at the base on my Soil Saver compost bin, and shoveled out five or six heaping helpings. This was the most miraculous part of the whole process. For the last year, I had been filling that bin with things I would have otherwise discarded: garden clippings, fall leaves and kitchen scraps. With time and turning, those leftovers had magically morphed into soil: sweet, black, nutrient-rich and deliciously soft. I mixed the compost with last year’s soil and smoothed the surface with the back of a square metal rake. I scooped out four little pockets, and nestled my tomato plants in place.

I haven’t always had gardens. Before I got interested in plants, I raised two children. But I have been making stuff up forever. They’re miracles, too: bits and scraps of experience, hearsay and fact that have turned through time until they magically morph into stories.

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2 Responses to “My Other Garden”

  1. Aimee Swift Says:

    I love this. It’s true. Writing is like gardening. You have to start out with at least one seed, one kernal of an idea, and after you plant it, it’ll need nurturing and care over the time it takes to grow… weeding and watering… and then finally, after so many days of dirty fingernails and wet shoes, it’s time for the harvest! I am hoping to harvest a few of my own “writings” this summer 🙂

  2. Ruth Horowitz Says:

    Thanks, Aimee! I hope you do, too!

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