Even though I got to the farmers' market on Wednesday by 8:30AM, the arugula was gone and it's too early in the season for there to be much other food; I didn't need onions. But there were plenty of plantings available so I bought some lettuce, scallions, green peppers and sweet basil to grow in containers on my deck this year.
At the garden nursery yesterday, I picked up some new pots, additional potting soil, a pair of gardening gloves and a couple of flowering plants to brighten up the vegetables. These will go along with the vines, candy-corn-colored snapdragons and a few other flowers I've grown from seed in the past couple of months.
The strawberries I'm growing in hanging bags arrived from the seed company last week, as did the blueberry bush they say will produce 10 pounds of berries over the season. Blueberries went for $7.50 a pint last year and I paid $7 for the bush, so even if they are exaggerating and I get five pounds, I win.
Or, maybe not. It is still too chilly to hang out on my deck, so a couple of days after potting up the blueberry bush, I went out to check on it and half was missing, chewed off by a @#$%^& squirrel.
I never had squirrels on the deck before, but then I never grew food before either. I've now attached some thin, plastic webbing around the plant, but those furry little buggers have thumbs, you know, so I suspect there will be war between the squirrels and me this year. I invested three dollars in a big bag of raw, in-the-shell peanuts with which I will to try to distract them. If that fails, I'll shoot them. (Just kidding)
All this put me in mind of my childhood when my mother kept a kitchen garden, a left-over habit, perhaps, from World War II victory gardens. She would send me out to the garden when she was preparing dinner to pull carrots, pick beans or peas, bring in a lettuce or gather sweet peas to put in a vase for the table.
I had earlier helped with the planting and what amazes me today is how much I remember about how to do all this. It's a bit different in that I do container gardening now rather than in the yard and outside of a few pots of flowers, I haven't had much practice in the intervening 60 years – but Mom's lessons are still there.
“Just scatter these seeds on top of the ground.” “Now these seeds have to be planted deeper, like this.” “Ronni, it hasn't rained in a couple of days; you'd better go water the garden.” “Don't forget to salt the slugs or they'll eat our tomatoes.”
What else remains from those years is the wonderment. I remember asking my mother how such big carrots or so many flowers could grow from those tiny, little seeds we stuck in the ground together. She didn't have much of an answer, as I recall, and the question came to mind again this week, moreso now that I'm growing vegetables rather than flowers.
The mystery seems larger to me when I can eat the result that is, quite literally, the fruit of my labor. Outside of some water and a little plant food, it really isn't labor at all. It just happens, like the sun coming up each morning.
I read somewhere once that as we get older, we remember our youth more sharply than we did during our midyears. You couldn't prove that by me, but lately it seems to be happening - and just in time for my recession garden.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Norm Jenson admits a thievery in The Shopping Cart.