Over the years, we’ve attempted a garden in every home where we’ve had access to a yard. I say ‘attempted’ because there always seemed to be an insurmountable hurdle between us and fresh veggies. Between my lack of attention and the excessive attention of various critters, we haven’t had much luck over the years. But this year…this year, in our tiny city garden, we achieved produce. An actual harvest. A crop of basil. A crapload of tomatoes. Beans, peas, peppers, zucchini. There were even squash – though they were struck down by a freak frost early in September.
Our only other success story was our first, most loved, and most tended garden. In the backyard of a rented duplex in Victoria, we tilled a good third of the yard and planted row upon row of tomatoes and zucchini, beans, peppers, cucumbers, and peas.
I’d never done this before, I really wasn’t sure what kind of yield each plant would produce…but by mid-June, we were already awash in fresh vegetables. In fact, we couldn’t keep ahead of the plants. We had started bringing vegetables to work, leaving them in lunch rooms. Our annual solstice party ‘favours’ involved parading our guests to the garden to pick their own zucchini by lantern. (I’ll never forget the image of Sherrill sauntering down the sidewalk at 2am cradling one the size of a baby.)
By the end of July we were close to panic. The freezer was full, our tiny apartment was overrun with jars and the plants were relentless. People started avoiding eye contact when we’d ask if they’d like more tomatoes. There were discreet conversations at work, quietly banning any more beans on the lunchroom counters. We found ourselves buying gift-bags from the dollar store, filling them with fresh picked goodness and sneaking out into the night, leaving them on doorsteps around the neighborhood.
The thought of cutting the plants down, or leaving the crop unharvested never occurred to us. It was imperative that each plump, ripe piece of produce found its own home, to be appreciated and savoured. It’s destiny fulfilled.
For more than a decade I’ve brooded over gardens with poor soil, fought wars with deer, rabbits and porcupines, and watched in frustration as birds stripped my chard back to the ribs. Now here we are, rewarded – finally – with a taste of that sweet summer when we took abundance for granted.