The Garden That Keeps on Giving
One of the best parts of spring is saying “hello” to all my favorite garden plants. I am not a lazy person; but I am especially thankful for the plants that appear of their own volition. Sometimes they come because they are perennials. Sometimes it’s one of those varieties that puts out hundreds of pesky seeds which seem to be everywhere in the fall. Other times, I have little idea of why a certain plant comes up in spring, but I appreciate the simple fact that it is here through no effort of mine.
Many years ago, a friend generously gave me a tomato plant, with a remark that I would have to do almost nothing in order to harvest delicious tomatoes in a couple of weeks. The plant was so big that it already had several smallish, green fruits on it’s branches. Yet, in a couple of weeks, that plant was dead. I had probably let quite a few days pass before I’d even checked to see if it needed a drink.
Not long after that, I thought that I may succeed at gardening if I tried to grow weeds. (Some are edible, right?) Around this time, I learned about perennials and “self-seeders.” Could it really be that some plants would re-appear every year on their own? I’d never paid much attention, but after making a point to notice, I realized that they’re everywhere– irises, lilies, hostas, poppies, bachelor buttons, roses– I’d been seeing them all my life, or course.
I began to learn which plants were easy to grow in my neck of the woods by asking neighbors and friends, and just by looking around and noticing which varieties seemed to look good in every yard. I was still intimidated by vegetables and fruits, but I really filled in my beds with flowers. I had to start the process all over when we moved to a completely different climate, here in Colorado. Eventually, my husband asked me why I never grew vegetables. “I just seem to kill everything I try to grow,” was my answer. He pointed out that I was being silly, since our yard was full of beautiful flowers.
So, I’m a little slow. I looked around the yard, and not only did we have a lot of lovely flowers, but we also had quite a few fruits & herbs that were planted by previous owners. As I became more interested in the benefits of growing our own food, I resolved to try to grow vegetables, and to begin to use the things that were already growing in my own little corner. Now I’m totally hooked!
I’m not the most awesome gardener, but on most days, for at least half the year, I can get at least some food from my very own yard. Sure, I have plants that fail, for one reason or another, every year. That’s okay. I still get a ton of exercise and satisfaction from what does grow. Today, for example, I was able to have spinach, chives, lettuce, dandelion, sage and lavender for lunch! Soon, there’ll be radishes, strawberries, Swiss Chard, and rhubarb. Later, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and beets. Not long after that, plums, okra, & summer squash. Finally, we’ll have winter squash, broccoli, and pumpkins. All along there will be fresh herbs.
Next spring and summer, I’ll probably have quite a few “volunteers” show up once again. I’ll keep as many as I can, and enjoy the fruits of my labor; but not really, since there was no actual work involved.
If you’re just getting started in gardening, good for you! If you’re a master, congrats! If you don’t have a garden spot available, consider a container garden, or, maybe support local farmers or community gardens. There’s good reason gardening is our nation’s #1 hobby!