My finance and I bought our first house together spring of last year, longing for something more than our tiny urban balcony, rammed with potted plants and more bulbs than any sane person would ever buy without owning a yard.
Last spring, between moving and renovating, we put in a small garden in the backyard; tomatoes, lettuce, leeks, carrots, onions . . . but this year, with renovations behind us, we have completely dug in. Literally.
I don’t know what made us do it – the grubs eating our lawn into oblivion, outrage at the price of trucked-in, petroleum-soaked ‘organic’ veg – or maybe just the thrill of knowing that the most subversive, rebellious thing we could do to stick our little wee fingers in the great big eye of agri-industry was to plant a garden and grow our own food.
Determined to flip the bird to a food system that gives us tasteless shadows of strawberries in mid-January and tomatoes as hard and palatable as baseballs year-round, we are growing a garden made up almost exclusively of heirloom vegetables. We would not select our veg based on uniformity or the ability to travel thousands of miles unscathed; we would select our veg for taste, personal pleasure and unique and unabashed beauty. Take that, Agri-Man!
Sometime in January as we waded through seed-catalogues in anticipation, our ‘to-grow’ list grew longer and longer and somewhere along the line we realized our backyard alone simply would not do. Our sun drenched south-facing front lawn was simply begging to be transformed.
After digging the first two pitchfork rows of sod I began to have an inkling of what we were in for. I often say to my fiance, that if I knew in February what I know now in June – that this was going to be so much friggin work, I might not have taken the plunge. However, the big digging is behind us; my arms are stronger and significantly freckle-ier and I wouldn’t change our decision for the world.
I would, however, have rented a sod-cutter.