This weekend, I was lucky enough to spend my days gardening. Well, more than just gardening – I helped to create a garden in my girlfriend’s parent’s backyard in Berkeley. Between lifting bricks, rolling tree stumps, and shoveling dirt, I’m still pretty exhausted and achy, but it was worth it.
I have to admit that I know next to nothing about gardening. I know plenty about produce, including what grows in the greater Bay Area and what’s available during different seasons. But before this weekend, I couldn’t tell you how deeply seeds need to be planted or how to best transfer small plants to new, larger homes in the ground.
Luckily, I had my girlfriend and her mom to guide me through my weekend’s work. It was incredibly satisfying to dig holes with a trowel, break up roots of plants and place them into pots or the ground. It was fun to imagine what our harvest will be like – several types of tomatoes (including the Brandywine plants I picked up at the Temescal Farmers Market – my favorite), snap peas, fava beans, blueberries, asparagus, golden oregano, rosemary, and parsley from the ground. Not to mention the trees that will be full of apricots, satsumas, apples, limes, and persimmons. And we haven’t even constructed the main vegetable bed yet!
We also spent a good amount of time pulling weeds from crevices between bricks – I think I alone pulled hundreds of them. Then we mixed some seeds – poppy and creeping thyme – and sprinkled them into the crevices, covering them with sand and water.
The asparagus planting project might have been the most time consuming. First, we carefully recovered the 12 asparagus roots from their box of sand. I would have never guessed what these roots look like – a sea creature with several root tentacles and one white shoot growing up from the middle. Apparently, their roots like to grow very deep down, so we planted them above two and a half feet of dirt, piling nearly a half foot of dirt on top of them, and we’ll have to keep covering them with more dirt as the white growth pokes up through the ground. It was well worth the effort – though they won’t yield anything edible this year, they will next year and should continue to provide for the following 50 years.
Though I’m still suffering a fair amount of pain, I’ve been thinking about gardening throughout they day. I think many of us take for granted the phenomenal climate of the East Bay and how well suited this area is for growing just about anything. I also know I’ve taken for granted the high quality organic produce I buy at the farmers market weekly. Though I’m happy to pay a bit extra for quality food, I don’t think I fully understand the amount of labor and care that goes into the fruits and veggies I buy. That’s going to change, but now I have a new ritual I need to budget into my weekend time – tending the garden.