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Thursday, August 02, 2007

How I began gardening

While watering the garden, I was realizing that in the time since we got home from vacation, almost a week, we've eaten tomatoes every single day. The day we got home it was eggplant parmesan, on Saturday it was a zucchini-tomato bake with fresh basil and oregano, Sunday we made a zucchini tomato frittata, Monday it was Greek green beans (with fresh tomatoes instead of canned sauce), yummy tomato soup on Tuesday, which I had to make sure I had plenty of tomatoes for because it takes three pounds of them, and last night we had a small tomato basil salad along with our white beans and chard. Tonight we'll have pasta with pesto and cherry tomatoes. In fact, I've bought no produce since we returned home except for fruit and onions.

It's so satisfying to be able to provide such delicious food for my family, all home-grown. Especially when it comes to tomatoes! We'd get sick of zucchini when it keeps giving and giving (though, sadly, I think my zucchini plant has died!) but we will always be hungry for tomatoes. The satisfying feeling is akin the feeling I got when I realized, after Hibiscus was born, that I could feed her completely from my own body, no formula needed. My body was made to make and feed babies. Nothing short of amazing!

I told about how I started gardening on Deb's blog, and I thought I'd share it here, because it's kind of funny! It's really Hibi's fault, or perhaps it's really Robert McCloskey's fault. Here's the very roundabout story of how I began gardening:

My parents always had a vegetable garden when I was growing up, but to be honest it always seemed so utilitarian, and very standard. I never even liked tomatoes until I tried heirlooms. I don't remember going out to the garden to harvest anything myself, like my kids go and eat cherry tomatoes and peas off the plant. And all those straight rows! (I never garden in straight rows...)

One book that we loved to read together when Hibi was five and six was Robert McCloskey's _One Morning in Maine_. It's the long, meandering story of a little girl's day, starting in when she woke and found that she had a loose tooth. When she lost it later that day, she is told that she should make a wish on the lost tooth and she will get it. Lots of things happen in between, but in the end she gets her wish when one of the village storekeepers offers her a chocolate ice cream cone.

Hibi was taken with this idea, and when it came time for her first tooth to come out, she was very excited about a wish being given. At this point, I was worried--the book didn't come with instructions for parents as to how to find out that wish in order to fulfill it! So I convinced her that the tooth fairy (we merged the "wish" idea with the tooth fairy that we'd grown up with) needed her to whisper her wish just as she was laying down in her bed at night. And what I heard that night was a whispered "a turtle!" (I'd been kind of hoping her wish would be the same chocolate ice cream cone...)

Oh, boy. No way a turtle was going to appear under her pillow! So I left a note from the tooth fairy saying that she had charged her parents with taking care of the acquisition of the turtle. A trip to the pet store ensued, and a tortoise was obtained named Torty. (We decided after that that the *first* tooth lost got a special wish; the following ones just got ordinary money!)

After we had Torty in her aquarium, we really felt kind of bad that she didn't have more room to crawl around. So, in front of our apartment, we created a space that was fenced in where she could crawl around. It was Paul's idea to make it a little garden with plants that she would like to eat. So, we especially for her planted petunias (she loved petunias!) and chard and aloe vera. (No tomatoes or basil back then--this was the fog belt of San Francisco!) And not only did Torty have a beautiful little world to crawl around in, but a gardener was born: me. That tiny space was perfect for a beginner gardener as it wasn't overwhelming, but just the right amount of space to figure out how to grow things.

Fellow gardeners, how did you begin your gardening venture? Please leave a comment, and if you blog about it let me know!

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