This year I hauled several wheelbarrow loads of rocks, dug up about a hundred square feet of lawn, and planted a full-on veggie garden. It’s not large by some standards, but it grew plenty for my husband and me to enjoy throughout the summer–including several types of lettuces and greens, radishes, beets, and carrots. Unfortunately this was not a good year to grow tomatoes in Seattle. Correction: It was a wonderful year to grow them. It was not so good a year to enjoy bountiful harvests of glorious red-ripe fruit. That said, my cherry tomatoes have been trying to pull more than their own weight, and I have had a few nice little harvesting sessions, including this morning.
Also in are my hops. I planted a vine as an ornamental, to cover up the visible side of our plain shed. This year, as part of the veggie bed, it has really been happy, and rewarded my efforts with some hops. I picked them and now they sit, drying on a sheet, on my counter. Now what? Should I look into making some ale?
A garden isn’t just a pretty place. It can provide food, stimulate every sense, and be a relaxing place to hang out. A garden lets you bring nature’s colors and scents indoors, if you wish. The act of gardening provides mental respite–I am not the first person to find weeding, pruning, and plain-old puttering in my garden to be a meditative activity. Gardening puts you in contact with life, with nature, with the possibilities of light and earth and water, and like a select few other activities, puts you squarely in the moment. A garden is a man-made construct that mimics the natural world, with the best interests of humans at its heart. Just as nature is not a sterile monoculture, so a garden should not be–and this is why a lawn is not a garden. In my opinion, a well-done garden isn’t just attractive to people, but to all sorts of wildlife as well. In my own garden, I find an abundance of insect life, as well as reptiles, amphibians, and birds.
The more critters I see, the healthier I know my garden is–as an extension of the natural world. I take pride in knowing that I am not the only one to find this corner of the world a safe haven.