Therapeutic Thursday: In the Garden

Milton is exhausted after a hard morning of planting.

June 4, 2015: Milton is exhausted after a hard morning of planting.

This is our first garden plot, as last year we used only containers on the deck. We have graduated now to a raised 4×4 foot bed in hopes of having success with our Calliope eggplant, Ping Tung eggplant, Golden Bell peppers, Red Beauty peppers, and four “mystery” tomato varieties gifted to us by friends. After this photo was taken I added Sugar Baby watermelon plants and a Small Sugar pie pumpkin plant as well. The Cherry Roma tomatoes will be moving to their own container on the deck.

Last year we had only a small container garden on the deck, but we had great luck with a hanging basket of grape tomatoes and several varieties of peppers and basil. This year, the herbs will stay on the deck and the vegetables will go in the ground.

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Summer 2014: My first bell pepper!

I never thought I could be a Real Gardener. You see, my grandmother was an amazing gardener, with more varieties of daffodil than I have ever seen anywhere else. Her flower beds were elaborately designed, and she had acres of woods as a gorgeous backdrop to her vegetable garden, flower beds, and fruit trees. For many years, I have joked that her green thumb skipped right over me, as I have always managed to kill even houseplants. My flower bed in the front of my house is more a plant graveyard than a garden, but I discovered that for some reason, I can keep herbs and vegetables alive much easier than flowers or houseplants. Having small successes last year helped me gain the courage to expand to this year’s 4×4 foot raised bed.

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Additionally, the therapeutic value of last year’s container garden far exceeded any monetary value of the produce we grew and therefore didn’t have to buy. Every morning I would get up and before even sipping my tea or starting my breakfast, I would head out to the deck to make sure my plants were watered before I left for work. After work, I would go straight to the deck to again water my little garden and check how many new tomato or pepper blossoms I could count.

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Summer 2014: Ripening Beefsteak tomatoes.

Later, as the fruits and vegetables grew, I couldn’t wait to get home each day to see what had grown and find what we could harvest and use for dinner. The basil was so prolific that I made pesto all summer long; our favorite application was to spread it on thin slices of baguette and sprinkle finely chopped grape tomatoes on top before baking it for a few minutes for a heavenly pre-dinner appetizer. The grape tomatoes had so much more flavor than any store-bought version we had ever had!

By summer’s end, I was hooked on the feeling of awe and pride that came from growing food out of dirt with nothing more than water and sunlight. My grandmother’s green thumb gene had finally been activated and I had embodied the spirit of a Real Gardener.

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