Note: You can skip my explanation and go straight to the Grow Write Guild page to find out more.
Tell More Stories.
Back in December I declared that this was my goal moving forward. The more I know about gardening and the more I write about it, the more I see that it is all about the stories. As a professional garden writer I am supposed to identify myself as an expert and make sure to position myself in that way in order to rise above the herd and increase my value. “Citizens of the World, I have all of your gardening answers!” But the reality is that while I have learned a lot, there is far, far more that I do not know. Infinitely more. And other things that I forget. This is not a bad thing. It keeps me humble. It’s also a challenge to learn and a guarantee that I will never be bored — that I can carry this obsession with plants through the whole of my life and it will always be as vivid, dynamic, and alive as it is right now. Maybe even more-so.
Which leads me back to Tell More Stories. Read more…
July was painfully hot and dry. The garden suffered and there were days when I was sure that I would lose a few plants as a result.
August, on the other hand, has been wet and somewhat cool. I really can’t complain. I don’t remember the last time I watered anything other than the pots and many plants have bounced back from the extreme conditions. The only drawback is that the earwigs and slugs have regained traction and some of my tomatoes split on the vine due to the rapid shift overnight from extremely dry to wet. I don’t like knowing that summer’s days are limited, but I do like that I can get out into the garden without burning to a crisp!
Clockwise from Top Left: 1. My garden on August 9, 2012. 2. We made Stuffed Squash Blossoms last night. First batch of the summer and SO SO good. 3. Yesterday also marked the first big batch of homegrown Roasted Tomato Soup of the season. It was a day of delicious seasonal firsts. 4. I am in love with ‘Rattlesnake’ pole bean, a beautiful and delicious heirloom that I inherited from my friend Margaret at AwaytoGarden.com. The beans come on fast and grow large quickly, yet I’ve been able to snack on them raw despite their size. Oh dear. ‘Trionfo Violetto’ has got some work ahead if it is going to hold onto its title as my go-to pole bean favourite.
Assorted and Sundry
Clockwise from Top Left: 1. This is a view of half of one of the raised beds, situated about midway down the garden on the west side. This bed housed an assortment of crops last year, but this year it holds several determinate (bush) and dwarf tomato varieties that have quickly turned into a jungle of foliage, flowers, and now some fruit are on the way. The stake at the back is empty as that variety was mangled by the squirrels and has never recouped. I haven’t claimed the space for something else because I was so determined that it would bounce back. The poor thing is clinically dead and here I am still rooting it on.
There is a ‘Turkish Orange’ eggplant at the front of the bed (already full of adorable little fruit), and in front of the actual bed is peppermint and thyme. I have since planted a dwarf tomato variety in the open spot next to the thyme. It was floundering in its pot so I decided to give it some space in the ground. I’m completely out of pots now, and potting soil, too for that matter. I don’t suggest transplanting tomatoes once they’re making flowers (as mine was), but it can be done if you are careful not to disturb the roots.
One of the garden projects I’ve had on tap to post about is the woven willow bean tripod I built last week, shortly after our return from a road trip that took us through my “hometown” and the place where I grew up. This sort of garden work is creative, but it is also physical, and I find that while my hands and body take over, my mind is freed to wander and meander over thoughts and emotions that have been stuck in my subconscious.
Meditation in motion.
All-in-all the bean support probably took about 2 hours to construct from start to finish and I spent the entire time mulling over the stark contrast between the lifelessness of that place and where I live now. I thought about the reasons why people can end up in a place like that without the resources or agency to turn it around. When I think about my childhood in that townhouse complex, class inevitably sticks out and I do not want to undermine that. Class Matters. To be clear, I am not speaking of or for the people who live there now, I am only speaking of the experiences I had while living there. What struck me when I stood at the edge of that walkway to the front door of #62 was that the impoverishment I experienced there wasn’t simply about a lack of money. It was not about a lack of things, which is what my mother often jumps to in her defence. Which is what people think of first when they think of impoverishment. We had shoes on our feet, cable television, and toys. We did not die. This is what she says. That my childhood was a success because I lived through it. No, it was so much more than that. The physical deadness of the place where even the few hardscrabble plants I remembered as a child were now completely wiped away served as a visual reminder of other kinds of deadness. The kinds that are sometimes hard to define and certainly less tangible than a lack of greenery or our very mortality.
This inevitably lead me to thoughts about making something out of nothing, which is what I was doing at the time. Here was a pile of branches clipped from a friend’s garden; yard waste that I was turning into an artful supportive structure. And here was a handful of bean seeds gifted from another gardening friend that in a few months time will grow into a beautiful, edible plant that we will be nourished by, which will also provide seeds for next year’s garden. And so on.
As I finished the structure and planted the seeds I felt proud and satisfied. I imagined the way it will look once the green leaves have formed and wrapped themselves around the brown branches. And the bright scarlet flowers that will follow them. Alive and colorful. A simple idea, come by simply. And yet to have this simple beauty in my life is not simple at all.
Today’s post was slotted to be one detailing our wonderful, recuperative trip to the desert, but then we met Molly.
Our desire to adopt a rescue dog was solidified over the Holidays and during the trip so on return, we started looking seriously with the intention of finding the right dog for us. I told Davin, “This is going to take some time, months even.” I expected to bring a dog home around the time that the peas go into the ground.
Molly was posted on Petfinder on Tuesday night. I called on Wed afternoon and had a long chat with the woman fostering her. She sounded too good to be true. A gentle, loving dog with no behavioural issues that would be overwhelming to people like us who do not have much dog experience.
Molly was being fostered in a home just outside of Toronto so we booked a rental car for Saturday knowing that she might not be right and that this could be the first in an exhaustive line of disappointing dog visits. We were eager to adopt a dog, but we also wanted to be honest and mindful of our limitations. Neither of us have much dog experience and we were worried that a dog with serious social issues and/or showing any signs of aggression could be more than we can handle. I have a tendency to root for the underdog, but I knew it would be detrimental for everyone if we took a dog based on feeling sorry for it, or with good intentions only.
It’s a tribute to the experience and integrity of the foster parents that Molly was exactly as described. It wasn’t long after meeting her that we knew she’d make a wonderful addition to our family. She was hesitant about us at first. She took her time to approach, but warmed up surprisingly quickly for a dog who has been through so much recently. What’s more, the allergies that normally plague me with prolonged exposure to shedding dogs was absolutely non-existent with this fluffy little Muppet (a mix of non-shedding breeds). A few hours later and she was settled on my lap in the back seat and we were on our way home together.
And just like that we are in love with a scruffy little dog.