In Another Life…

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Sophie planting tomatoes last Saturday.

I could have been a farmer’s wife. Easily. If the cards had been dealt differently, if my heart had swayed in another direction, I would not have said, “No“, to a life, knee-deep in mud, wearing Wellies and a barn coat, yanking kids from their mother’s wombs at 2 am. I don’t do idle very well. I can picture that life, milking, straining and hand-crafting goat’s cheese or some other “Artisan” product.

Eureka lemon.

Maybe that’s why, suburban girl, I am, I could never give up my “plot” of land. I need a bit of space…a couple of tall trees, a place to stretch out. I am a practical…not romantic. So, when I took Emma to Mission San Juan Capistrano sometime during the Spring of 4th grade, and discovered “square-foot gardening“, I asked for 4, 4 X 4 raised planter boxes, not jewelry…never jewelry, for my June birthday.

Last year’s heirloom tomatoes.

Today, I went looking for vegetables to plant. I always grab too many. Not enough space, too many varieties. Now, I want to plant the “photographic” kinds of tomatoes, not the plain red ones, but the cool, stripey, variegated heirloom tomatoes.

Pumpkin tree

I always plant Cinderella pumpkin seeds, hoping for another “Pumpkin Tree“, but never get. This year I planted a couple of artichoke plants in between my rose bushes in the front yard. I also embrace “companion gardening“, which I first read about in “The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden” cookbook, given to me by my Scottish friend, Lorna two decades ago. I grab this book every Spring and bring it out into the garden so I can be reminded of which plants belong together. Its pages are bent and dirt stained and I love them ever more for that.

I buy a praying mantis and a box of lady bugs every year to help control garden pests.

Companion gardening means that you plant vegetables and herbs that “play well” together, repel insects, and therefore avoid the need to use herbicides. I always plant basil in between the tomato plants, and never put corn near my tomatoes. I plant marigolds around the borders to help control aphids.

I wish I could follow the bees who love my lavender, back to their hives.

I am pretty sure I don’t plant to save money, but rather to soothe the inner farmer in me, to give my children the sense of “ground to table” and to have that immense pleasure of walking out to the garden and picking what I need for a mid-summer’s meal. Plant something….anything. Plant some herbs. Use them. Tuck them in your front yard. Stick a tomato plant in a pot on your patio. Tell me what you’ve planted. Post photos. Let’s grow together! Find me on Facebook…we have fun there!


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  1. Well, I planted about 8 different kinds of tomatos, several colors of peppers and lettuce, beans,Japanese eggplant, squash, and sugar snap peas (that are about ready to eat), strawberries, and basil. Last year’s oragano came back! Still room for a few more things. I will need lots of recipes – do you know how to dry tomatos?

    1. Linda, good for you on the sugar snap peas! I just planted mine last weekend, so I’m way behind you! That would be a great post…sun-dried tomatoes to preserve the bounty! I’ll keep that in mind for sometime in July when we are overflowing with them!

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